The Cycle | October 12, 2012
>>> all right. let's listen in to vice president joe biden speaking at a campaign event in paul ryan 's home state of wisconsin.
>> -- by doing away with exemptions for the very wealthy people. now, the one exemption, the one loophole, people usually call them loopholes, the one loophole he's made clear you cannot get rid of is the one that allows him to pay at 14%. seriously. and when asked what other loopholes will you cut and you heard it asked last night of congressman ryan , could not name one. not one. that's why, folks, the bipartisan group called the tax policy center , made up of former bush and former clinton economic experts, that's why they said that the romney/ ryan tax plan would in fact raise taxes on middle-class families with a child an average of $2,000 a year. $2,000 a year. and by the way, every model looked at it from the so-called, the american enterprise institute , nerve accused of being a liberal organization on, says the same thing. taxes will have to be raised on the middle class if they succeed in their tax cut . folks, it's time to lift the burden off the middle class , not double-down on the great recession that hit them.
>> that's the vice president at his first campaign event since last night's debate. there was another, let's just say intense debate going on last night but it waend biden/ ryan . it was a bitter congressional race in california and it took a bizarre turn when both candidates nearly got into a fi physical fight right in front of the voters. let's take a look at this.
>> that by the way with howard berman and brad sherman , two democrats in that new california system. they're running against each other in the general election for one seat in a merged district.
>> another example of why americans are increasingly frustrated by the way our political system works or didn't work in some cases. our next guest says there's a silver lining , though, we just have to look back a century or so to find. he's the author of "the 100 greatest americans of the 0th century," a social justice hall of fame . he joins us how. peter, tell us about this project. 100 greatest americans . you're looking at a specific realm, social justice . can you tell us what made you put this list together and how it was put together, what the criteria was?
>> sure. i wrote this book to celebrate the heroes and heroines of the 20th century . a lot of the things we take for granted, social security , the women's right to vote, the right of workers to unionize, protection for consumers, environmental legislation , the progressive income tax , all these things were aconsidered radical ideas. now they're things that we all take for granted. i want to remind americans that we all stand on the shoulders of the people that came before us, the activists, the organizers, writers, musicians and politicians and the athletes that inspired us to be a better country.
>> this is a varied list. it goes from laguardia to bruce springsteen in the modern days. one name that jumped 0 ut at me from the not so distant past that people might remember is paul wellstone , the senator from minnesota killed in the plane crash ten years ago. why is paul wellstone on this list?
>> he died ten years ago and during the time he was in the senate, he really aked like an organizer and activist. he was the ally in the senate of the progressive moment, the unions, the environmental organizations , folks fighting for better mental health and physical health . he was a fighter. he came out of a background as a community organizer . and he ran for the senate, he continued inside the senate to be an organizer as well as a politician. and there are lots of people in our history who were elected as mayors, city council members, congress members, even presidents of the united states who saw themselves as allies of progressives to fight the fight for a more just and equal and humane society . paul wellstone was clearly in that tradition.
>> i think it's an excellent list. i'm happy to see thurgood marshall on the list. he does not get enough credit for what he did as a lawyer and supreme court justice . malcolm x , he becomes a post-racial humanitarian later in his life. he's a person who is hugely charismat charismatic, a compelling figure that had a massive impact on america . it's interesting, a lot of the cops who were wiretapping him would be listening and over time would say this guy makes a lot of sense. we should actually be helping him and not trying to entrap him and listening in on him. why did malcolm x get on the list?
>> well, malcolm x represent the voice of a lot of low-income african- americans who were concerned about the plight of the poor. as he got older and as he became more experienced as an activist, he began to see that the hopes that unite us are much greater than the fierce thears that divide us. there are universals for all people, that we need to have a more humane society , we need to do better in terms of addressing the problems of the poor and middle class , blacks and whites. he grew as an individual. many people in my book started off in a different place than they ended up. earl warren was an attorney general of california but he wound up on the u.s. supreme court as the chief justice and was responsible for brown versus board of education , the integration rules, and many other progressive rulings of the supreme court . dwight hiaasen hower once said the worst decision he ever made was to appoint earl warren to the supreme court .
>> one of the people on your list was saul linsky. a lot of tea party groups were actually contributing copies of his work to his minute to understand how to organize. what is saul alinsky 's true --
>> newt gingrich is an idiot when he says saul is un-american. he believed in democracy. he believed that people, ordinary people , should have a voice. he was the founder of community organizing . what is community organizing ? if you believe sarah palin it's not much. but if you believe the thousands of people around the country that are fighting for better schools, safer streets, for cleaner environment, for better jobs, that's what community organizers do and saul alinsky wrote the textbook on how to be a good community organizer , how to be a good activist, how to be a good citizen and it's not surprising to me that the tea party is using that book to learn how to organize because his rules for radicals, his ideas for progressive change could be used boo i anybody, but he thought that ordinary citizens should have a voice in their government. it shouldn't be just organized money, big business , the koch brothers, people like that. it should be ordinary people in their neighborhoods, in their workplaces, in their communities having a voice, and saul alinsky , who began his organizing career in the '30s and lived through the early '70s taught us all a lesson which many people are applying even today.
>> professor, i had to notice that thereto weren't a whole lot of republicans on your list. i assume teddy roosevelt made the cut because of his great work in conservation, but this is a fairly partisan project, you'd admit. you have to be a progressive to be considered one of your top 100 americans , yes?
>> well, except that back in the early 1900s many republicans were, in fact, progressives. hiram johnson was the progressive republican governor of california , earl warren , as i said earlier, was the conservative republican governor of california also, but he later became a progressive supreme court justice . the criteria for getting in my book was people who fought for a more humane, just, and equal america and worked as organizers, as activists, as politicians, and as writers and artists, people like bruce springsteen , woody guthrie .
>> and michael moore made your list.
>> michael moore to me is the modern day e quif lint of upton sin lair. upton sinclair wrote "the jungle" in 1906 and exposed americans to the awful conditions in the meat packing plants that made our food so unsafe.
>> it's a horrifying book.
>> our food is much safer in america today because of upton sinclair and michael moore 's movie "sicko" is kind of the equivalent of "the jungle." a muck raking journalist who works with activists to try to enlighten us and expose corruption and injustice.
>> professor, thank you for joining us. up next, toure's take on the america he wants to see, not the one that necessarily is. full whitening