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All In With Chris Hayes, Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Read the transcript from the Wednesday show

March 12, 2014

Guests: Anna Greenberg, Liza Goitein, Greg Feith, Robert George, Imani
Perry, Sam Seder

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris.

And the dust has settled after the special election in Florida`s 13th

And today, we learn what the results of the first congressional race
of the year tell us about 2014. We learn that Obamacare lost, the
Democrats lost any chance of retaking the House, that Republicans will
clean up in the midterms -- or maybe we learned something else.

Maybe we learned just how fraudulent the entire conservative uprising
of the Obama years has been since the very beginning.



REP.-ELECT DAVID JOLLY (R), FLORIDA: Folks, I got very good news
tonight. No more commercials.


HAYES (voice-over): Last night, Republican David Jolly won a
congressional special election in Florida, defeating Democrat Alex Sink,
and ushering in predictions of doom for the Democratic Party this November.

But if you want to know the meaning behind Jolly`s answer, the answer
is hiding in plain sight in plain sight in Florida`s 13th district. It`s

AD NARRATOR: To pay for Obamacare, Washington is forcing seniors to
endure deep cuts to Medicare Advantage. Sadly, Alex Sink supports these
cuts, sticking with Nancy Pelosi who wants to keep Obamacare intact, which
cuts Medicare by $716 billion.

HAYES: That ad was paid for by the Chamber of Commerce, the very same
Chamber of Commerce who last year launched an initiative to reform our

programs, because if we don`t, they will consume every dollar the
government collects.

HAYES: That Chamber ad attacking Alex Sink was not special to
Florida`s 13th. In fact, ads like that have been central to the
conservative message in the Obama era. Because the only thing Republicans
love more than attacking, quote-unquote, "entitlement spending" is
attacking Democrats for cutting Medicare, one of the largest drivers of the
long term deficit.

Since the Tea Party perfected this strategy, conservative big money
donors have run ads attacking Democrats and the president for cutting

AD NARRATOR: Does it make you mad Tammy Baldwin voted to cut $716
billion from Medicare?

AD NARRATOR: Berra supports Pelosi`s plan to slash over $716 billion
from Medicare.

AD NARRATOR: Cuts Medicare by $716 billion.

AD NARRATOR: $500 billion in Medicare cuts.

AD NARRATOR: $500 billion in cuts to Medicare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cuts $500 billion from Medicare.

AD NARRATOR: Cut Medicare by $500 billion.

HAYES: It`s not just outside groups, it`s Paul Ryan, whose 2012
budget cut projected government spending by almost $6 trillion over the
next decade.

On the Republican presidential ticket, Ryan attacked Democrats again
and again for, quote, "cutting" Medicare.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: When I think about Medicare, it`s not
just a program, it`s not just a bunch of numbers, it`s what my mom relies
on. The president raids $716 billion from the Medicare program to pay for
the Obama care program.


HAYES: And the reason Republicans are disingenuously attacking
Democrats for cutting billions in government spending while railing against
government spending is because the difference between the two parties is
not about small and big government, it`s about who benefits from

In defending Medicare spending, Republicans are just looking out for
their base. The older whiter demographic who tend to come out to vote in
nonpresidential elections. The people who do not want to give up their
Medicare thank you very much.

So, if the GOP wants to shrink government while preserving
entitlements for its base, they have to look at programs that aren`t
associated with that base like voting to slash food stamps by $40 billion
over 10 years, embracing the sequester which cut money from government
housing programs, now they`re even railing against the free school lunch
program. Because Republicans need to squeeze those programs so their base
has as much money as it needs.


HAYES: Joining me now, MSNBC senior political analyst David Axelrod,
former senior advisor of President Obama, current director of the
University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

David, this hustle has been run since 2010 and it drives me nuts that
no one seems to pick up on it. But I imagine you and the people around you
in the White House and in the Democratic Party over the last four years
have been seeing exactly what they`ve been doing?

you know, Mitt Romney tried to run that at the president in 2012 and we
were able to push back on that, I think the important thing is to be
aggressive in response.

I`m glad that you raised Congressman Ryan, because as you know, his
plans for Medicare were really draconian, so much so that the Republicans
in the House had to walk away from it, and in his budget he kept the same
$700 plus billion that he was complaining about for Medicare Advantage and
so on. So, I mean, the hypocrisy is really unbelievable.

HAYES: And we just had this a little flashpoint in this battle where
some of the Medicare Advantage cuts were changes to the Medicare Advantage
payment methodology. They`re trying to sort squeeze some of the excess
cost out of the program that Republicans successfully demagogued the White
House into backing away from that just in the last week.

AXELROD: Yes, I tell you what? I think that any candidate who faces
us ought to be pretty quick to point out that the Republicans want to
repeal the Medicare prescription supplements that were in this Affordable
Care Act. They want to take money away from seniors for prescription
drugs. So, there are some pretty good and solid hits back.

One thing about this race, though, that is worth noting, it is a
source of concern, as much as the issue itself, and that is turnout in this
election. This election was -- the composition of the electorate was 13
points in favor of the Republicans in terms of party registration, that`s
three points more than in the last midterm election. We -- it`s eight
points more than in 2012 when the president carried the district by one

So, the notion that this was a swing district in this election wasn`t
quite true. And if Democrats are going to hold their own in the midterm
elections, Democrats have to figure out a way to get turnout up or you`re
going to see defeats all over the map.

HAYES: That is -- you took the words right out of my mouth. In terms
of the decline, you got a 46 percent drop-off from the 2012 election, and
21 percent off even in terms in 2010, the number of people showing up. So,
you are a political strategist of some renowned talent. What`s the

AXELROD: Well, I think there are a number of things. One is that we
have to apply some of the technology and some of the approaches that we use
to get up, turn out in battleground states and really use analytics and
research to identify where our voters are, to communicate with those people
who we think we have the best chance to motivate.

Point number two for all this talk about how the president is
radioactive, in many of the states that are in contention particularly in
the Senate race and the south, the ability to motivate minority voters is
going to be very, very important. And using the president, the first lady
and others surgically to increase that turnout is going to be very

I think we have to go at them, I don`t think I should be on our hind
legs on health care.


AXELROD: I don`t think we should let them define that fight. I think
we should go at them on minimum wage and some of these economic issues that
go right to the heart of people`s pocketbooks. I think we ought to talk
directly to women who are very receptive to the Democratic message.

So, there are a series of things we have to do. But this should be a
warning sign that if we don`t change the nature of turnout in the fall --

HAYES: That`s it.

AXELROD: We`re going to have a big problem.

HAYES: That is the game. Whether we`re going to see -- it`s the 2008
and 2012 electorate versus the 2010 electorate, that is the story of
American politics at the national level.

MSNBC senior political adviser, David Axelrod, thanks so much.

AXELROD: Good to be with you.

HAYES: Joining me now, Anna Greenberg, senior vice president of
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, a Democrat polling forum and campaign
strategy group.

OK. We have some new NBC/"Wall Street Journal" polling out today.
And lots of parsing on issues, favorability, Tea Party, is the president

Here to me -- this was the single most result, I think it bears on
Florida 13th, now on every race.


HAYES: Is the United States in a recession right now? Fifty-seven
percent of people say yes. Now, think about this for a second. The
National Bureau of Economic Research, which does the business cycle dating
committee, says the recession ended in June of 2009. We are three and a
half years out, and the majority of people are saying, I am not feeling
like the recession is over?

GREENBERG: That`s what I`m hearing in every focus group I do all over
the country, whether it`s Arizona or Texas or, you know, Wisconsin. And
the issue is that coming out of this recession, if we are indeed out of the
recession, people see certain macro indicators suggesting things are
getting better, the unemployment rate is going down, GDP is up.

But, day to day, they don`t feel better. And for a number of reasons.
One, the cost of living still continues to go up, and the price for daily
expenses like groceries for example has gone up considerably since the
beginning of the financial collapse.

People who have lost their jobs and now have new jobs, those jobs tend
to pay less. They`re people who have maybe the same amount of money, but
they`re working two jobs, which means they have to figure out how to pay
for child care or other kinds of expenses that pay for transportation.

And so, people come out of the recession seeing that the media talks
about the economy getting better, they see people at the top actually doing
very well, but they feel terrible and feel like it`s the new normal, like
it`s not going to actually get better. It`s kind of a malaise.

HAYES: And that feeling of new normal, that feeling that things are
broken, that kind of decline vision I think has been both in some ways
cynically aided by Republican intransigents at the national level, but
they`ve also benefitted off it, right? You say everything is bad, and the
president`s screwing around with Obamacare is basically the message.

GREENBERG: Well, they can say that we spent all this money, whether
it`s TARP, which was Bush.

HAYES: Right.

GREENBERG: Stimulus, cash for clunkers, Obamacare, and things haven`t
gotten better. So, you can say, not only did we have an economic collapse,
government spent a lot of taxpayer dollars and it didn`t get any better.

HAYES: What`s striking to me is that there doesn`t seem to be a
connect of voters punishing the Congress, for something as discrete and
simple as defending unemployment insurance. So, you`ve got these voters
who are economically anxious, they`re showing up in your focus groups and
in polls saying, my life isn`t materially better.

And then you look at the policy landscape, you have Republicans
filibustering an extension of unemployment insurance for people who are
like them. And there is no political connect. There`s no price to be paid
for that politically.

GREENBERG: Well, I think the problem is, the level of cynicism and
isolation from Washington is so high, that if you look at the brand of both
the parties, they`re so low. If you look at the generic congressional vote
in national polls, the interesting dynamic is that the undecided vote is
going up -- usually the undecided goes down, as you get closer to election
day. The number of people who identify as independents goes up, and it`s a
deep alienation from both parties, and there`s a lot of noise.

When you spend a gazillion dollars in these races, it`s a lot of
noise, and people think they`re terrible and they tune it out. And so, you
have approval ratings for Congress at an all-time low, the brand of the
parties arguably -- the Republican brand is way, way worse than the
Democratic brand. The Democratic brand is still not great.

And so, people just tune it out and think it`s all noise and they`re
all bad, and, you know, no one cares about us.

HAYES: And we can analyze -- I mean, in some ways, I think everyone
has been a little hoodwinked by that kind of conservative con, which is
that everything is about Obamacare. You can talk about Obamacare, you can
look at the polling of Obamacare, messaging on Obamacare, at the end of the
day, are people asking themselves, is my life materially better? Do I feel
hopeful about my future?

And in the long period of economic ruin and destruction caused by the
Wall Street crash, the answer very often is no and continues to be no for
this day. And that to me is the chief driver of our politics.

Anna Greenberg from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research -- thank you.

GREENBERG: Thank you.

All right. A tantalizing new possible clue in the search for the
missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 late today. These satellite images
were posted on a Chinese government Web site taken near the last known
location of the plane. I`ll explain what they could mean, ahead.


HAYES: Coming up, when you hear the words inner cities, what do you
think that means? When you hear Paul Ryan say it, what do you think he


RYAN: We have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities in
particular, of men not working --


HAYES: I`ll offer some possible theories, ahead.


HAYES: The war between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Senate
committee that oversees it is escalating today.

Senator Mark Udall of the Senate Intelligence Committee announced that
he is placing a hold on President Obama`s appointment to be top lawyer at
that agency. And although Udall`s office has not told NBC News the
senator`s precise reasoning, it comes amid the fight about allegations that
the CIA basically spied on the committee`s staffers. And what that means,
is that the position of the top lawyer to the CIA will continue to be
occupied by a man of the name Robert Eatinger, the CIA`s acting general

Now, odds are, you`ve never heard of Robert Eatinger, and you`re not

But it is worth explaining this man`s record.

Do you remember this headline? That`s right. We would later learn
that the chief of the CIA`s clandestine branch, Jose Rodriguez, ordered the
destruction of 92 videotapes of the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, tapes of
what the CIA called enhanced interrogation, but what I and most of the
world refer to as torture. In other words and just so we`re clear here,
tapes of torture, torture tapes.

Torture is a crime under American law. These tapes were plausible
evidence of the possibility of those crimes having been committed. So the
CIA wanted to get rid of those tapes, they asked their lawyers, basically,
is it cool if we destroy videotapes of us torturing someone?

According to "The New York Times", .which spoke to officials in 2007,
Jose Rodriguez, the man who would destroy those tapes, received legal
guidance from two CIA lawyers that he had the authority to destroy the
tapes and the destruction would violate no laws.

Based on that advice, Rodriguez ordered the tapes destroyed. One of
the lawyers who gave that advice was one and the same Robert Eatinger, the
man who is right now the CIA`s acting general counsel.

And so, the CIA destroyed those tapes. Now, when this became public,
people went appropriately apoplectic. And an investigation was
precipitated, the very same investigation that is now being fought over.

And now, Robert Eatinger is representing the CIA as it goes to war
with the Senate Intelligence Committee, to try to possibly interfere with
the release of that same report. Not only that, this is a man who is
inextricably bound up with the entire torture regime, served in the agency
during that time, shows up in the report, the committee is preparing 1,600
times, according to the committee`s chairwoman, Senator Dianne Feinstein.

And yesterday, Senator Feinstein, in her broadside against the agency,
went out of her way to call out Eatinger, though stopping short of
mentioning him by name.


the acting counsel general`s referral as a potential effort to intimidate
this staff, and I am not taking it lightly. From mid-2004 until the
official termination of the detention and interrogation program in January
2009, he was the unit`s chief lawyer. He is mentioned by name more than
1,600 times in our study. And now, this individual is sending a crimes
report to the Department of Justice on the actions of congressional staff.


HAYES: Keep in mind -- at the heart of all of this is an
investigation into torture programs shuttered by President Obama when he
came into office. And now, years later, the lawyer who says is
intimidating her committee, is the same lawyer who back in 2005 reportedly
gave the green light to destroying tapes showing that torture.

Joining me now, Liza Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national
security program at the Brennan Center for Justice.

I can`t really believe that this is the case. I mean, it seems to me
at the very least, this lawyer needs to recuse himself from anything having
to do with this report?

would seem to be one possible solution, in that it doesn`t look good, it
looks very much like retribution on this lawyer`s part for a report that
made the agency look bad and made him look bad.

But I think it would be a mistake to focus too narrowly on that one
person. This is not just a personal vendetta of one man. John Brennan has
vocally defended the CIA and he`s even implied that there might be some
criminal conduct on the part of intelligence committee staff.

So, this is really a clash between institutions, the CIA and the
Senate committee that oversees it.

HAYES: And the big question is, these institutions do not exist in
the vacuum. We have the thing called the presidency of the United States,
the executive, the White House. It presumably is what controls the Central
Intelligence Agency.

Here was President Obama giving comments today about this brewing
battle. Take a listen.


into office, I ended the practices that are subject to the investigation by
the Senate committee and had been very clear that I believe they were
contrary to our values as a country.

With respect to the issues that are going back and forth between the
Senate committee and the CIA, John Brennan has referred them to the
appropriate authorities and they are looking into it. And that`s not
something that is an appropriate role for me and the White House to wade
into at this point.


HAYES: I was struck by the language, "not appropriate for me and the
White House to wade into at this point."

What do you think about that?

GOITEIN: Well, that`s always what the White House and the Department
of Justice actually say publicly when they`re asked about any matter that
is in anyway in litigation or under investigation. They said that it`s not
appropriate for them to comment while it`s in investigation.

And, you know, that`s not strictly true. I mean, there are things
that the president could be saying about this clash between these two
institutions and he has been notably reticent.

HAYES: Yes. So, what do you think that is about? I mean, it seems
to me that we have seen since basically since the president came in, there
was a huge amount of institutional push back from the CIA towards him and
towards his administration. There was lots of reporting behind the scenes,
the president and his team going out of his way to assuage the concerns of
the CIA. And this seems like a continuation of that trajectory.

GOITEIN: It does seem that way. And what we`ve really seen is the
sort of tripartite. We`ve seen the president in lock step with his
intelligence community in lock step with the Senate Intelligence Committee,
and this is really the first time that we`ve seen daylight, a good deal of
daylight between the Intelligence Committee and the agencies that the
committee oversees or at least one of those agencies.

So, I`m sure that the president is extremely reluctant to have to
choose sides on this. And from his perspective, the less he says the

HAYES: So, is there -- where does this go next?

GOITEIN: Well, there is an investigation that`s ongoing, and I`m sure
that there will be -- that certainly you`ll hear from John Brennan, you`ll
hear from the president, that everybody should reserve judgment, and nobody
should be talking about this until the investigation is over.

But I don`t think that the Senate is going to let that happen. The
members of Congress are going to let that happen. Senator Udall has
already placed a hold on the confirmation of the new general counsel for
the CIA, and there are other measures Congress can take to make things
pretty hard on the administration. So, I don`t think this is going to lie

HAYES: Dianne Feinstein can, of course, read as much of that report
into the congressional record as she pleases, protected by the Constitution
Speech and Debate Clause.

Liza Goitein from the Brennan Center for Justice, thank you so much.

GOITEIN: Thank you.

HAYES: Coming up, the latest on the mysterious disappearance of that
Malaysian airliner.


REPORTER: A Colorado company has deployed two satellites over the
search area, taking photographs and asking anyone online to help search for
any signs of the plane. Already, more than half a million people have
looks at the images tagging anything that looks like a clue. So many, the
Website has crashed.


HAYES: Crowdsourcing the search and a line buried in a "New York
Times" article that will blow your mind about the Pentagon`s involvement in
the search. There`s a lot of news to get to on this story tonight, we`ll
bring it to you, next.


HAYES: New clues and more questions in the baffling disappearance of
the Malaysian Airlines jetliner that vanished now five days ago with 239
people on board. Today, the Chinese governor released satellite images
recorded on Sunday morning that shows three large shapes floating in the
South China Sea. The largest of which was estimated to be 79 feet wide by
72 feet long.

The images were captured near the last known location of the Beijing-
bound aircraft which lost contact with ground control about an hour after
departing Kuala Lumpur.

But there are already been a number of clues in the search for Flight
370 that have turned out to be dead end, and at this hour, there`s no
confirmation from the Chinese government or anyone else that these images
are wreckage from the missing jetliner.

Senior U.S. defense and military officials tell NBC News they have no
information on the Chinese satellite imagery.

Meanwhile, Malaysian authorities continue to offer conflicting and
confusing information as anguished families of the missing try to hold out
hope. Last night, we reported that Malaysia`s air force chief told a
newspaper that military radar had picked up the flight off the western
coast of Malaysia, suggesting the flight had taken a sharp left, radically
veering off its flight path.

Now, that official released a statement today denying those comments,
even though they had been confirmed by high ranking military officials.
And then at a press conference, that same official said previously
undisclosed military radar had indeed detected something in the area he had
first indicated -- a region called the Malacca Strait, to the west of
Malaysia. But he cautioned it may not have been the missing plane.

So, the steady stream of inconsistent and conflicting information has
generated great anger among the families of the missing. A video made
public today showed some of them throwing bottles at airline officials.

In an editorial in the state-run newspaper in China, where most of the
missing are from, asked whether the Malaysian military was hiding anything
on purpose. Today also brought the release of a letter from an oil rig
worker who claims he saw the plane burning at high altitude when his rig
was off the coast of Vietnam far to the east of the missing airliner`s
flight path.

Vietnamese authorities told ABC News they checked the area and found
nothing and senior U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News their
satellites have not seen anything, quote, "to corroborate or indicate a
mid-air explosion at the time of the airliner`s disappearance."

At a tense press conference in Kuala Lumpur earlier today, Malaysian
officials said they have expanded the search area to 27,000 nautical square
miles, which is just a massive, massive are. Officials say there are 42
shifts, 39 aircraft and 12 countries engaged in the search. And since the
flight had about seven hours of fuel upon takeoff, according to Malaysia
Airlines official, the area the flight could have reached without running
out of fuel, at least in theory, is even larger than the search area.

Amid all this, five days after the disappearance, the families of the
victims are still waiting for some sign of what may have happened to their
loved ones.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no use -- it`s just disappeared off the face
of the earth and if we could just find some wreckage or something, it would
be a help probably.


HAYES: Joining me now, NBC News aviation safety expert, Greg Feith. He is
the former NTSB senior air safety investigator with 30-year experience as
an aircraft accident investigator. All right, the China images, it`s very
hard to know what to make of them. What`s your first response?

pixelated or blurred. That may be intentional by the Chinese government so
they don`t give away their capabilities or fidelity of the image. When you
look at this blurred image, it`s hard to discern whether it is an aircraft
part or a conglomeration of something else. Earlier, a couple days ago,
they found what they thought was a life raft or a door, and it came off a
shipping container.

HAYES: That`s why I think there`s been a lot of caution because every time
there seems to be some clue, where we found it is proven not to be the case
at least so far. As an amateur watching this now in day five, watching the
kind of information come out, get retracted, seem to come out again,
watching the expansion of the search area, my amateur opinion watching this
is, they have no clue or they are hiding something. What is your
professional opinion?

FEITH: I think that we here in the United States have become very
transparent. We`ve been used to being very transparent when it comes to
giving information about an accident. You remember Asiana. We were giving
press conferences, the NTSB was, giving a lot of information. The rest of
the world doesn`t do that.

In this case, I know at the beginning of the investigation, they were
very cautious. They were really matching their words to make sure that
they were doing the right things. Now, I think that because the eyes of
the world are on them, every time they say something, they`ve been
scrutinized. They have multinational people participating. The Chinese
are upset about the process right now as are others.

HAYES: So we still don`t know this fundamental question. Can we show the
radius? That is what`s heart sinking about this situation. It`s just a
massive amount of area to be covered for this flight at this point. If
they don`t know anything about its trajectory at the time it possibly went
down, it seems like that`s a hopeless amount of space to search.

FEITH: It is. It is a daunting process and now with the Chinese providing
this image, all of a sudden they have to make a decision, do they take the
assets that they were going to use to move to the new search area. And go
back to the old search area, there`s been searching for the first two and a
half days, in the area where the Chinese say the debris of possibly the
airplane is. How did they miss it when they were there for the first two
and a half days?

HAYES: Can I ask you a question that I think people have been asking
themselves, but it maybe seems ridiculous. Is there any hope this thing
landed somewhere? I mean, any hope at all? Is that possible?

FEITH: I think the key word there, Chris, is the fact did it land? It
could have landed, it could have crash landed. It could have crashed,
which would be a landing. I doubt it landed some place where the pilot put
it down. They came to a stop. Everybody got off the airplane and they hid
the airplane. This is a large aircraft. I mean, to go unnoticed would be
impossible, I would believe.

HAYES: The transponder being off, a lot of people have suggested that
maybe that suggests either some kind of affirmative decision by someone in
that crew or some kind of electrical situation where depressurization --
any of those read to you as possible?

FEITH: There`s two transponders on this airplane. They`re independent of
each other. So you could actually have one that totally failed but you
have a backup transponder. The fact that neither transponder is providing
information to ATC, which is specific to that airplane. It identifies the
data tag with speed, altitude and an identification for that flight. The
fact that both of them were not providing information suggests possibly an
electrical failure.

But not possible really because of the circumstances and the fact that
there had to have been some other level of guidance once that airplane made
this very sharp left hand turn and flew for an hour and a half, it`s
probable it was intentionally disabled.

HAYES: Highly probable it was intentionally disabled. NBC News aviation
safety expert, Greg Feith, thank you.

All right, when the book Bill O`Reilly co-wrote about Abraham Lincoln
was released, there were reports it wasn`t going to be sold at the Ford
Theater where Lincoln was assassinated because it was filled with factual
errors. The theatre later put out a statement which O`Reilly read on the
show saying they would sell the book.


BILL O`REILLY: The statement says there are inaccuracies in the book, in
325 pages there are four minor misstatements, all of which have been
corrected. There are two type set errors, one involving a date.


HAYES: We all make mistakes, it`s true. But it appears O`Reilly isn`t
done making them when it comes to our nation`s 16th president. I will
explain next.



O`REILLY: The affordable health care act is dubious to say the least,
using a comedic web site to enroll people is a little desperate, don`t you
think? I`m all for PR and if Carney wanted to go on funny or die, fine.
But the president of the United States? All I can tell you is Abe Lincoln
would not have done it.


HAYES: Bill O`Reilly doing his best get off my lawn routine in reaction to
the president`s intentionally bizarre, but I thought pretty hilarious
appearance to promote with Zach Galifianakis on "Between Two


the affordable care act?

the thing that doesn`t work. Why don`t you get the guy that created the
Zune to make your web site?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The works great now.


HAYES: That appearance caused all kinds of consternation from
conservatives calling it everything from inappropriate to tragic to
dreadful and gross. Bill O`Reilly found the whole thing un-presidential.
And as a guy who co-wrote a book about President Abraham Lincoln, if he
says Lincoln wouldn`t have gone on an internet comedy show, well, he would
know or would he?

In fact, after the screen shot of O`Reilly went viral last night,
historians stepped forward and said, actually one of Abraham Lincoln`s
defining features was his sense of humor, which was often odd or
inappropriate. One correspondent who travelled extensively with Lincoln
wrote that the president, he was inordinately fond of jokes, anecdotes and
stories. He loved to hear them, and still more to tell them himself out of
the inexhaustible supply provided by his good memory and his fertile fancy.

There would have been no harm in this, but for the fact the courser
the joke, the lower the anecdote, the more risky the story, the more he
enjoyed them. Editorial cartoonist at that time made fun of Lincoln for
precisely this. Portraying him requesting a funny song in the middle of a
battlefield or being reminded of a joke.

In contemporaneous accounts of Abraham Lincoln, one of his most
striking defining features was his oddness, strangeness, which Daniel Day-
Lewis probably did the best modern day job of portraying in film. Maybe
Abraham Lincoln would have done something like "Between Two Ferns." Only
it`s possible he would have come off a lot more like Zach Galifianakis than
President Obama.


HAYES: Paul Ryan is on a bit of a promotional tour these days, plugging
his new poverty report and pushing his own personal brand as a daring anti-
poverty crusader. That tour landed him on Bill Bennett`s radio show this
morning where he was able to talk at length about his deep and sincere
concern for the poor in this country. Here`s what he had to say.


REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Your buddy, Charles Murray or Bob
Putnam have over at Harvard -- those guys have written books on this, which
is we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities in particular
of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about
working or learning the value and the culture of work, there`s a real
culture problem here that has to be dealt with.


HAYES: OK, there are just a couple things that need to be addressed here.
First of all, this cultural tailspin he is talking about where men don`t
work, don`t even learn about work, don`t even think about working, did you
notice how Paul Ryan sees this anti-work tailspin as manifesting in our
inner cities in particular? What do you think he means by inner cities?
This inner city?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here`s my question, who are the ladies?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re the ladies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m not the ladies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you`re the ladies.


HAYES: No, that`s a little far from the center of the city, maybe when he
says inner city, he`s talking about something closer to midtown like this?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In publishing you need two things, a tough hide and a
dry martini.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Martinis in the morning, is it allowed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Only in absolute emergencies.


HAYES: No, maybe Paul Ryan is worried about the declining culture of this
inner city.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This gypsy trash will not have anything near and dear
to my heart.


HAYES: Or how about this inner city?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: George, stick them up, these German tourists, pretend
I`m robbing you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this people can go back home and tell their friends
they saw a real New York mugging.


HAYES: No, of course not. Those are not the inner cities that come to
mind when you here Paul Ryan talk about cultural tailspin and zero work
ethic, no. This, this is the inner city Paul Ryan`s words call to mind.







HAYES: What inner city means is this context is among poor black and brown
people or is California Congresswoman Barbara Lee put it, quote, "My
colleague, Congressman Ryan`s comments about inner city poverty are a
thinly veiled racial attack and cannot be tolerated. Let`s be clear, when
Mr. Ryan says inner city, when he says culture, these are simply code words
for what he really means, black.

And so what Paul Ryan is saying, apparently when you swap out black
and brown people for its obvious semantic cover is that there`s a culture
of black and brown men, quote, "not even thinking about working."

Now I will say this for Paul Ryan. He is correct. There are
shockingly high levels of unemployment in the, quote, "inner cities,"
particularly among men, but I can think of a dozen, even a hundred reasons
why without getting near the culture of work. You may have also noticed
that Paul Ryan cited a man named Charles Murray in his little explication
on the culture of work.

Charles Murray covered a book arguing that white people are smarter
than black people. I would call that a dodgy citation, but your mileage
may vary. The real irony is that Murray`s latest book, argues the very
cultural problem Paul Ryan is describing is rampant among working class
whites in this country far from the inner city.

There are so many pieces of advice I have for Paul Ryan, who I would
love to have on the show if you`re watching, as he continues this poverty
crusade of his. But the most important one is that he needs to stop
talking about people who are poor, and start talking to people who are

Joining me now is Imani Perry, professor at the Center for African
American Studies at Princeton, host of "Majority Report," Sam Seder and co-
host of "Ring Fire," Robert George, a former aide to New Gingrich, now an
editorial writer of the "New York Post." Robert, am I being mean? Am I
being unfair, uncharitable to Paul Ryan?

ROBERT GEORGE, "THE NEW YORK POST": I think you`re being a little bit
uncharitable. I don`t think that he is the first politician to use a
slight of hand and say inner city as short hand for talking about issues of
poverty and economic deprivation and so forth. I don`t think he`s trying
to be coy. And I`ll say this, I think Paul Ryan in particular, he`s a
protege of Jack Kemp who addressed more of these issues probably more so
than any other Republican --

HAYES: I don`t want to give points for addressing, right. This is the
soft --

GEORGE: I think the real point that he was trying to get in here, is there
is a cultural component to poverty and that is something by the way that
Charles Murray looks at not just in terms of black poverty but white
poverty as well. It`s even something that the president kind of alluded to
when he was talking about the impact of fathers -- fatherless homes just
last --

HAYES: Cultural component of poverty?

line of argument given that we have -- the cause of poverty, we can look at
the `70s, we can look at disinvestment and urban centers, we can look at
industrialization, the globalization of labor. All of these are causes for
high unemployment. Particularly in communities of color, why are we going
to cultural explanations given that they`re very -- they would be quite
difficult to trace.

We have these really compelling explanations as to why, and I guess
the bigger question is, why don`t we talk about why there isn`t work as
opposed to this idea that people don`t want to work? Clearly people do
want to work?

SAM SEDER, HOST, "MAJORITY REPORT": There is not a culture that breeds
poverty. It may be, poverty does breed reactions that one could argue are
cultural in some respect. The causation is backwards for him. He`s saying
that the reason why people are poor in the inner city is because they have
an idea they don`t want to work. To the extent there`s any ethic in any
situation, it is a function of the poverty not a cause of the poverty.

GEORGE: I mean, I would argue that they wouldn`t necessarily say culture
creates poverty, I think he would say certain cultural things can -- it can
exacerbate it, make it difficult to -- make it harder to escape from, even
recognizing that there are macroeconomic factors at play.

HAYES: I want to come back to this inner city language thing because I
think it was -- you`re right. He`s not the only politician. It`s widely
used. But in this context, it was doing a little bit for him. I want to
talk about that ahead.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You started out in 1954 by saying -- by 1968 you can`t
say -- you say stuff like forced bussing, states rights and all that stuff.
You getting so abstract you`re talking about cutting taxes and all of these
things you`re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of
them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.


HAYES: I`m back. I`m here with Imani Perry, Sam Seder and Robert George.
That`s an amazing clip of tape from Lee Atwater, the Republicans campaign
mastermind strategist, talking about how this kind of sort of shift of
meaning happening, the sort of use of racially encoded words, I thought
this 2005 study on the effects of this was fascinating.

A random half of respondents was asked if they supported locking up
violent criminals. The other half was asked about violent inner city
criminals. The word is doing something, here`s my question for you. If
you`re Paul Ryan and serious about getting the GOP on board, why be talking
about the poor?

The point is, there are poor Republican folks in Kentucky, poor folks
in West Virginia, poor folks in your base you could be talking about, as
opposed to talking about those people in the inner city that you drive past
on your way to the stadium?

GEORGE: I think the flip side of this is he could be talking that way, if
you`re Paul Ryan and you`re somebody who is not talking just to the
Republican base, which I think if you`re starting to talk about poverty in
a comprehensive way, he`s speaking not just to his base, he`s also talking
to suburban moms.

HAYES: That`s the key.

GEORGE: But -- he`s not doing that, I don`t think he`s doing that in a
negative -- if he`s doing that in a negative way, he would be starting to
talk about, get tough on crime.

HAYES: That I agree with, I still think it`s sympathy performance.

PERRY: Right, I think you`re right. I think perhaps we don`t need
sympathy, but rather opportunity. And there`s a sense in which, you know,
there`s this kind of emotional component that`s being drawn upon when we`re
not talking about what the issue is, which is the lack of opportunity and
the lack of employment. Lack of work, and also, employment discrimination
is part of the cause.

GEORGE: And again --

PERRY: It doesn`t matter what --

GEORGE: -- I want to point out -- just a week or so ago, the president was
also making the same link between opportunity and culture.

HAYES: And Imani weld at this table.

PERRY: My issue is not a partisan one, I think we have to be very honest
about what the landscape that we`re confronting, and in order to be honest
about the landscape we`re confronting, it`s not about this racialized
language that both parties participated in. We actually really have to
tell a thorough story about why we see such vast inequality in a society
that --

HAYES: That`s so persistent.

SEDER: I also think that, look, Paul Ryan has Google and he knows that
there`s been a lot of research done on the way that people associate
welfare with race. He knows that the dynamic changed in the 1960s where
poverty, anti-poverty programs used to be associated with the individual
farmer and the hero, and then all of a sudden became about the inner city,
and -- during the time where there was a lot of turmoil in inner cities,
this became code words, he knows all this stuff.

So he may not be as craven about it as other politicians. I mean, to
be charitable. But he`s -- he knows what he`s doing, he may be appealing
to those soccer moms, but he`s playing on some racial bias and he knows
that. He must know that, otherwise -- I have to give him a lot less credit
than I would for intelligence.

HAYES: Imani Perry from Princeton University, Sam Seder from "Majority
Report" and Robert George" from "The New York Post," thank you all. That
is ALL IN for this evening. The "Rachel Maddow Show" starts right now.
Good evening, Rachel.


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