tv After Words with Kimberley Strassel CSPAN August 7, 2016 9:00pm-10:01pm EDT
this a little bit but with "star wars" i have heard strong arguments the movies have strong feminist moments or anti-feminist i have heard both sides of the coin so i am curious undertake on that and then you have a steady dollar the movies probably more in depth and i have so few think rey is? [laughter] >> i actually know and if i told you there would be a drone that would kill me because i can't tell you. [laughter] but in terms of feminism there is a view that has foundations that there's something very retrograde about the trilogy that there is only one female figure
that the tough guys are those that a rebuild lightsaber though longer the better with a key scene in return of the jedi he is naked and then became famous i don't like that at all believe that. [laughter] so what i like and what i believe is princess leia is undergoing a hero's journey equivalent to a more dignified than luke's that she is the strongest of the rabil characters and has the most clarity of vision in the guys are clueless. she knows how to shoot, she organizes them but in terms
stick they explored during this. this is your first but it must be pretty exciting to have your first book out is a candle in the dark times when you read it is pretty compelling. what are the takeaways you want readers to see? >> to say we have a new era of politics and it is very scary. you cannot always do this but trace it to a date is
january 21st, 2010 when the supreme court issued citizens united. felis and two democrats they will say it is a terrible day to let special money and influence back into elections i would argue it is a different reason nothing to do with dark money but for the reason that the democrats have come to rely on the campaign finance rules to keep their opponents from speaking in elections when that went away the supreme court opened the gates for people to speak then they said if we cannot stop them then we will threatened and harassed and intimidate and tell them they will pay a political price if they continue to take part in elections. we have conversations about this online these were the
discussions had and we saw a big attempt in congress to immediately do that with legislation that would have had a retribution the fact on companies if they would have continued. >> tell the story of the i.r.a. scandal i you learned more from year at book than i ever knew. >> this is the first telling of what really happened because it is the great example it is how government the liberals and people on the left are using government to silence free-speech very different from those campus wars that we talk about and the irs is an excellent example and what we know is we have the 2010 campaign finance ruling and democrats also knew the election was coming up the
country was very angry over policies them political blow back and losing the house and maybe the senate and they were very worried because tea party groups were pouring into the electoral space. so through 2010 they were sending letters say we must do something about these nonprofits the president al on the stump said you have all these groups we know who finds them it to be funded for an enemy or illegal so they should do something about this was the general tone. we have an irs bureaucracy that was already having this debate internally and they ran with it it was partisan and ideological and what we have the emails that show all of this that it was done at of washington and the
white house to put this day say it was just a few agents in cincinnati he did not understand the law but we know that is not true we have the record of what happened and within 24 hours of the first teapartier case being segregated in cincinnati was in washington everything was headed out of washington ever since that moment it was exposed within the irs and then we know that they fessed up and they did not tell congress the truth when i asked the story is there a justice been waiting for somebody to tell it. >> you say lois lerner she metaphorically flipped the bird to america. >> she did. [laughter] she ran this from inside her office. i have never been in her head i don't know what
motivated her better emails said she was partisan to the left also strong she hated money in elections even though it is the law of the land and her job is to follow that lot personally she did not like these rules that allow the group's to operate and is very aware of the political environment in 2010 going forward with everything happening outside with the president and his policies. we know this happened when it was exposed the top brass at the irs didn't come to congress even though they were asking if this was happening they were shut down then when she finally came in to testify in front of congress from that phony event where there was a
question planted so she could reveal she is called in front of congress and takes the fifth then proceeds to give a long defense of herself which you're not supposed to do so she has yet to really have to answer any questions. >> i cannot help but wonder what would happen if if the democrats were overseeing or why are they able to get through the stonewall? >> they have done a remarkable job in some ways we do know the basic facts in part because daryl eisa or the ohio congressmen who sat with me for a long time said he did yeoman's work but don't forget her
computer crashed per emails disappeared then with the backup copies those disappeared and the white house fought tooth and nail about having to turn over documents that would shed light everybody would clam up under executive privilege and they're all kinds of reasons it has been difficult it is not forthcoming administration and that has been clear in a lot of different ways but we do have the basic elements. >> but then uc other agencies are westernized so to speak about political adversaries talk about the sec. >> the federal election commission is a body created after watergate it is supposed to be bipartisan
and has five members so the president's party has the majority this has three republicans santry democrats it hears complaints from campaign if somebody has broken campaign finance laws but we have a lot of examples of the staff inside the ftc and it is ideology they don't like money in politics. it is a their job to have a statement on that or to rig the system against the of money but you can tell generally they don't like it and it is true because you see a little bit of a bias to the like those republican groups and there are some stories of one republican commissioner who managed to
root out some examples of how the staff was attempting to bring charges against these groups so they had to change things around so they could be held with different standards and he expose some of that and that is a really interesting story. >> fact, lots of the lawyers who end up at the sec are ruling class elites who think of conservatives as backward simpletons who cannot appreciate all lessons progress can offer then he says i wish to save it is simple partisanship but it is deeper than that and a way of thinking and that is far more troubling and worrisome than government power. >> those are all bonds words because i thank you see that
in the irs and the other intimidation issues in the book but you have these bureaucracies their preprogrammed to dislike money in politics or republicans sometimes they come from the same university with the same viewpoint. so when they hear the dog whistle and the president say these nonprofits are scary or in wisconsin they see a prosecutor working on the case with campaign finance for violation supposedly they are ready and inclined and that is where some of these have been abuses occur not always out and out intentionally you end up in the same place >> tell the story of eric
o'keefe in the john doe investigation. >> this is in the book the ira's scandal is disturbing because how broad and wide and how many americans and affected tens of thousands that had their voices silenced wisconsin with that power and abuse so what you have is 30 conservatives who were very supportive of government skywalker during cold recall fight that happened in wisconsin then we have a very liberal district attorney in milwaukee who wanted a secret probe. he can do this because wisconsin had a lot called the john doe statute so he issues a secret subpoena he
decided to defy this order and it came to "the wall street journal" where i worked. we blew the lid off of this abuse happening. then a lawsuit was happening and it went to the supreme court and they shut down. at the end there was a great line and it's in the book and i was going to paraphrase the special prosecutor in the case because at some point it was taken over by a special prosecutor. they've engaged in the theory is a wall to go after citizens who are entirely innocent of any wrongdoing. think about that statement and that is the supreme court saying
you abuse your power and harassed people saying this is what happens to you if you keep playing the election. you will have to spend thousands on legal fees because you decided to speak out. it's such a stunning book you put together and it doesn't feel like america. it made me wonder if they had gone by here today if it puts the first amendment on the outside of their building. at some point they have to put a black flag over the thing. a lot of people might say this is what happens to the groups to play in the big league. you will be engaged in the way the tea party was.
this is happening to average americans just for the crime of having political beliefs. i think another hugely disturbing story happened out in california int and that happened when they donated money in terms of proposition eight which was the support of traditional marriage. after they went and bought a hold of the names of those in favor of it and they put them on a searchable map and you can go literally from neighborhood to neighborhood and see where your opponents lived. they had their cars keyed and windows broken and very scary messages left on their e-mail and on their voicemail at home and at work.
some of them had flash mob protesters outside of the businesses and would block the way so customers couldn't get in. one of the scariest things about it is people gave depositions. based on what happened to me i would be reluctant to take part in a ballot initiative so that's the point if you intimidate people who make their life so tough they will not engage in democracy anymore. >> you hear both sides must do these tactics. what do you say when you hear people that aren't engaged but what politics from afar that say yes but that's both sides republicans and democrats.
>> two things on that. government abuses largely one-sided. i care about free speech and the amendment and the libertarian that comes to this. i have no allegiance to one party or another and i went into this an and i'd written a lot at it on the left from my column in "the wall street journal." but i assumed i would find a bunch of stuff on the right. i didn't. back in 2004, the bush administration started to investigate a very liberal church out in california that on the eve of every election appeared to have endorsed john kerry and the irs was looking into this group and that came out and the blowback was huge and they immediately backed off. but nothing like the irs is targeting scandal. >> they went to the gao and
there was a rhetoric intensity coming from the democrats. by the way i'm happy to say republicans were, too and there was a bipartisan backed -- to this and i think that is one of the reasons things immediately did back off. but you don't find it so much and it's in part the conservatives do take very seriously some of these constitutional values and believe that you to be part of their job. in response to the case that we have seen lately where you have the generals that suggests they might bring the racketeering for the crime of not thinking the right way on the climate. on the grounds they had issued
science that was interesting we have a group of republican attorney generals in response but said could you imagine if we did it this week that essentially bring charge against the company claiming that it was saving the planet. they have a lot of problems and they haven't exactly saved the planet yet. so their argument being we could do this, but we don't, because we don't think that it's an appropriate power. one thing we do see similarly is boycotting businesses so the protests with one very big distinction. i think everyone should have the right to not use the service if they don't want to.
and that is often what the right does. we are not going to buy ben and jerry's ice cream and that's one thing. the left is different because they have a demand that goes along with it. we are not going to stop harassing or intimidating you until you voluntarily give up your constitutional right to speak. and i do think that is wrong with. anyone that has given their constitutional rights they have a constitutional right to speak and when the threats and harassment and intimidation is about getting an organization to give up the constitutionally protected right i think that is different to measure. >> you are making me think of the story on the legislative exchange council use all that the members were blackmailed it almost felt like. see more. >> the legislative exchange
council developed model policy and then they spread it throughout the state legislatures and they are very effective. they are supported by the corporate donations but they have an interest but there would be regulatory environments in the state. they campaigned against it for a long time, but when the new tactics came to be they took a new approach. what happened was it was so economic base, but it did through its peril at one point decided to get involved to help create these stand your ground of laws that became very popul popular. when martin was shot in florida and they saw a new way to attack into the groups claim she was a racist because it had developed and claimed any company that set
up either way if you continue to support alec we will run the ad saying that you are racist, too. we will make everybody understand that you support a racist organization. they lost half of the corporate donors in a couple months. >> you would think that they would have the ideas back and forth between the left and the right instead of putting so much money and time into destroying and pulling apart and organization. that's a little new. >> it is disturbing the constitutional founders said one reason the first amendment is first and a the debate was kindf the way to the flourishing democracy. and they talk about this and wanted to set factions against
faction and that's how they wanted the country to proceed. so they liked the more voices, the better. you go back in history and we had some pretty ugly debates, but we debated it out. i don't know intyre late what has caused this, but it's seemed to come from a frustration and anger on the left they can't just win the argument and a good example of that is the climate discussion. at the public wantif the publicy large and expensive regulatory system passed through congress to deal with the issue and they've never been able to sell the public on that. they've never had more than 40 votes in the senate. and so, you see the president's imposing this program by executive fiat and you see that democratic senators sending harassing letters to the
university to continue to employ a scientist's who are not on their line on climate saying you need to send us ten years worth of all of your work making it clear that their lives will be miserable if they continue to employ these professors and of course no now you see these locl attorney generals going after exxon and about another 100 conservative and free-market think tanks that are not pulling the line. you can't win that debate on your own it's better to make the other people go quiet. >> who is bob feller? >> guest: key is a campaign-finance expert and counsel for the obama campaign in 2008 and 2012. he pioneered some of these tactics. interestingly, the first time was against hillary clinton. there was a super pack supporting her in the 2008 primary doing a lot for her
spending money in different states and they didn't like this. they kind of jammed up a bunch of bogus campaign-finance complaints but then they did something that no one had done before. often the campaigns will complain against each other in the federal commission. he not only filed a complaint in the fcc, he tried to get the justice department on the organization and the irs. he held a public event with the press and attend only was he going to get the justice department and the irs against the organization bu that against the donors and officers and he talked about criminal charges in the space of a couple of weeks. it was such an effective way of scaring people out of politics but he ended up using it against groups that supported john mccain in the general election and then you begin to see a lot of the groups and general
replicate the tactics for these things mentioned in the book. >> so, imagine if the victims were reversed, like it was the naacp or the human rights campaign or open society hell do you think they would react if republicans in power use these tactics against them. how did the media react and how might it be different? >> that is the great pity of this if you go back it was the naacp that brought this all the way up to the supreme court and ended up finding the court unanimously voted that there needed to be some unanimity in the politics. they had a case in favor down in alabama and the attorney general wanted the state to continue. the naacp had been a giant form
in its side in the montgomery bus boycott so he filed this lawsuit against the naacp that have to do with the state corporations but in the process they demanded that they had to hand over to the office a list of all of its members in the state. this was a period of lynchings and people losing their jobs and firebombings and all kind of things happening. and they understood to be handed over the last it was like a hit list and they fought it all the way to the supreme court said there were some that understand what it's like to be intimidat intimidated. but it's been lost along the way i don't know if it's power or memory i don't know what it is
but no matter your political persuasions because we have to care about the first amendment and free speech and this is aimed at anyone who does stories and here are disturbinin here ay american should care about them. >> host: do you hear liberals or democrats speak out against? i noticed the beginning. they were also involved in sending letters encouraging that same behavior they would say one thing and do another sometimes. >> the vast majority of americans love the first amendment and could not tolerate the sort of examples.
that's who is perpetrating that. the people that are playing at the top, the elected officials and democrats. i think they lost sight. some of the big groups that operate out there it's just about winning at all costs and it's not the view felt by most americans. for instance it's part of that whole debate we were talking about. another thing that happened with senator dick durbin even as the groups were attacking the companies being racist and and y and push them out, he launched a kind of plan campaign to about a thousand organizations in the country demanding to know if they supported him and suggesting if he did she might be pulled in front of congress for a hearing.
and by the way he should have never given this information because it isn't protected by law. so when it came out that he had done this, it was wonderful to see the outrage was huge and even the left-leaning papers of the state said things like the enemies list and no, you do not get to do this. and you don't have to use that to scare people out of the nonprofinonprofitgroups, you juo it. he was so abashed he never did talk about the subject at hand again. >> why do you think there hasn't been blowback compared to richard nixon's potential use what would be the obama legacy do you think? >> one thing that needs to be pointed out as we didn't have
any evidence the president picked up a telephone and told them to do this. there is no evidence my argument in the book is heate is he didna telephone, he went out and said these groups were bad and brought attention to it and primed the bureaucracy to act in that regard. in terms of the irs come it's depressing because no one has been held accountable. and i believe one reason that is is because the press too often doesn't stick with stories anymore. the line the white house put out at the beginning was a couple of agents in cincinnati they didn't know the law. investigations take a long time so by the time the congress actually gotten through all of this and we know that that's not what happened, no one had the interest in following that story any more. and as a result, most of the public doesn't know and they didn't have to hold anyone to
account. >> is that because the media is changing because you think back to ben bradlee at the "washington post" with woodward and bernstein. they wouldn't have let it go. it would have been headlined and they would have found things that kept the story moving. and you watch the numbers go down until the end on mixing and it's a different media. >> some shining examples, "the wall street journal" where i worked, i've been very proud not just in what the editorial page has done but the site very unrelenting on stories about those like hillary clinton's e-mails in her servers and what happened in that sort of instance so there aren't some stories that do continue to go. but i think yes it's a different media and one in which.
they don't read the newspaper from front to back anymore. it's a preoccupation that sometimes they cannot keep focused on. the intimidation game might feel like those of you have the power that's manipulating and picking your targets but if you're the target, if you're the victim it doesn't feel like a game, it feels like hell to have the government of against you or the warfare. so why the book title? >> guest: intimidation is what this is and then of course the
rest of it was a basis of that movie, but intimidation is what we are talking about here. >> host: what was it like to write your first book? >> guest: i had my name on a prior but that was because the generosity of two wonderful scholars that asked me to start a book on women and economic policies and when i got them they were gracious enough to put my name on as a sort of co-author, but it was never really my book and this was my book. and in the hard work i have three young kids. i didn't take a break to do this. so i wrote it every night from like 8:30 at night until midnight or one in the morning and i did that for months and months. but it feels very nice. >> you said one of your kids with keeping track.
>> my oldest son who is now 11 but was ten at the time, they would cross out and say 23 until the deadline. it was like seven hours until the deadline. and the stress of it every morning it didn't keep me going just so i could say that i got it done. >> what made you pick this topic and what made you tell these stories into further stories you had to edit out of the book already? >> guest: i've been covering politics already in disturbing was the beginning of the obama administration it was a very hard knuckle political administration and i started writing about those more and more in the column and i think
that naturally led me to a lot of the places that are in this book. it wasn't until a couple of years ago i had written about each of these but i actually started to do some reporting and i realized they were the same, not all the time, but there were people who were sort of replicated and talking to each other using the same tactics again and again and i went back and looked at what had happened after citizens united insult the discussions and realized they were not all random. there have been some thought into what was going on here so to try to wrap it together to try to give people an idea of how it began and how widespread it is now. >> you hope that there's checks and balances in the system that would keep the agency or the government official from exerting too much power, so what are the checks and balances and why don't they seem to be
working? >> guest: in some ways politics has gotten away of accountability. she's never been held to account. they ended up holding her in contempt for a federal prosecutor. his job under the statute was to convene a grand jury and in the end, he waited until his last day in office saying i'm just not going to do it and then retire. retired. so it is hard to get and i think one reason, i don't know why no one has been held accountable. what happened up there was absolutely appalling. and yet far from expressing the special prosecutor threatening to take this all the way to the supreme court, so they are not embarrassed by the tactics. >> tell the story about catherine.
>> this is another one where again we were talking about the bureaucracy. they run an organization called true the vote and it's one of those voter integrity projects. they hate those groups and those election reform laws that have been passed out in the state. they ran the campaign and suggested they were violating their rights by being on the books. so very early she became a
target and happened to be one of the nonprofits and a target of many elected democrats that singled her out and went after her and by and large hers was one of the nonprofits couldn't get the status and got targeted but also in the place of her home business she started getting visits from the irs and from other agencies and the federal government until the list was quite extraordinary and it all happened in the space of about a year. i talked to her in this book and she said it's one of those things you don't even understand what's happening at first then when you begin to realize. this is terrible targeting someone coming after you and
it's a bureaucracy that has been listening or you are on a list. there is no way that it's just coincidentally that many federal and state agencie agencies comed visit yocoming tovisit you all f human us after it's a very controversial organization. >> and you talk to people like other who have tried to help and be there for victims. how do we get to the bottom of it? >> it's sort of became telling the stories of these people who are targeted one of the reasons they are not as because they spoke out when they ended up getting targeted and when they ended up having intimidation tactics used against them.
they are attempting to pursue lawsuits and it's been great in the sixth circuit is requiring them to turn over a bunch of documents. when we are not getting accountability for the government and while congress has tried to impose accountability by the district attorneys and other things, what we are getting is a outside sits and the court does have expressed complete disbelief and
incredulity that the irs continued stonewalling even after the fact. there are those on the left that don't hear back. >> there are all kinds to talk about george soros and the money that he gives two groups. it's important to point out this is how the people at the top use issues like this even though they use it all about winning and power. the people who complain the loudest.
there's this environmentalist who spends millions in the last midterm to make sure they won the senat senate which they did, but they are not complaining about him saying please don't give us your money. we don't believe in that. of course not. again it is about winning. there is dark money out of there and you can convince them you need these campaign finance rules and then you can control speech. like i said, they've come to rely on that and making sure they couldn't plan for elections and putting restrictions on the nonprofits. they don't really want to have all those voices out there and i think that's scared people a lot about what the motives are.
in 2012 we spent $7 billion on federal elections and that may sound like a lot of money but to put it in perspective we spend $7 billion on halloween. i would argue more is better. it's a couple hundred million dollars a year. the vast majority, 96%, 97%. it's giving money to the nonprofits are worried about coming.
they don't feel comfortable having their name out there on the financial disclosure form. we have about 15 minutes left in the conversation and this is great. there's other people on the left and the democracy alliance is set up in a way that helps all the big money people on the left focus on what the big messages or issues are and i don't necessarily see that happening. maybe it does on the right. but the foundations, the rockefeller foundation, seymour. >> the organization you just mentioned is a clever setup where they steer the donors in the direction of the activist groups that they feel need of money and that democracy is very successful in that way.
but that is a lot of money going to the social welfare groups on the left. this is a way of again of having an issue, excuse me, that they can talk about to sort of push forward the campaign-finance agenda. we can only have $50 to do it. we can probably agree that we are not good to be very effective getting the message out to 3 million americans. so, if you accepted that premise that obviously money enables up
to a certain degree than the congress is also true if you're going to put limits on line we are going to limit speech to a certain degree on the end. they were out running the top campaign promise if they were elected they could seek to alter the first amendment, and again to give the government the ability to say who should be allowed to talk in the electio elections. by the way it minimizes the rights rather than expand them. but this is the degree to which those who want to win at this point are willing to tread on our constitutional rights in order to get people they don't
agree with. >> you raise such a good point in your book you mention how john mccain seems as if he is manipulated into the rhetoric built up about corruption. your point of using the narratives that's orchestrated across the whole movement on one side of the equation they are better at it on the left and they do it from the president down to the activist groups and people on the hill and the ability perception of something that may or may not be true and then they pass legislation. talk about mccain-feingold and how you would know more than most power in politics used to be in the parties. but now it is kind of sucked
into the shadow government types. you don't even have to start with mccain-feingold. i think that the american public in some ways had a scam placed on them and it's hard to believe the campaign-finance some amount of disclosure is required to know what's going on. but the friction is different. i think most people don't realize that the politicians do not pass these laws in order to make themselves more accountable. they pass them because in the whole history there's only a couple reasons why campaign-finance laws have ever been passed. watching it get caught in the scandal needs to make up fo fort so it passes these things as a service to look as though it is taking action. one way to block out their opponents and both sides have
done that terribly over the years. the republicans passed laws to block the union from speaking in elections. it was called the tillman act. he gives all of these giant companies i should say to the wealthy businessmen to support them. a lot of the trust owners at the time to support him in this thing and the democrats are furious. they happen t happened to have d candidate and that's why they lost they make a big fuss about all the corporate money and backing that he had. they reallif they really wanteda campaign issue and the turnaround that no one should ever be allowed to do what i just did.
so he makes himself look like a hero. and also the people he now wants to target in his administration to be silent is not running for the re- election. it was utterly self-serving. we are going to keep people honest in the elections and that theme runs all the way up through the campaign-finance laws that we have today, and mostly what they largely do is keep incumbents in power. the money is what enables the challengers to come up to them and speak up against them and as we know some of the aspects like that disclosure law politicians have become very good at avoiding the disclosure law themselves and it's now being focused on americans who end up on lists like in california.
>> we have about five minutes left to go. if you are the target of one of these efforts, give your advice to ordinary citizens or donors what do you do if you are under attack and get swarmed by the left are suddenly have a lot of visits from the irs for ats or alphabet soup agencies? >> that's one reason i wrote the book to let people know what's going on so if they see themselves one thing that is quite disturbing reporting it as the number of people i talked to who did it for a while know what was going on or they thought maybe they were crazy. so, people need to know that there is abuse happening by the hands of government officials to the average citizens and you could be one of those, suggests to be aware if you have
activists coming to you saying to be quiet, the best thing that i discover in the boo discoveree corporations in particular they would get teed up again to have to roll over and get hit again and second set of demands. i will tell you why we did this. corporations in particular, they have not been brave enough about embracing the constitutional rights. they do not have the right to
speak and we should be glad they do to represent millions of americans who they employ. the regulatory referral and the taxes and it's good for the shareholders and for the people. step back and let other people defend them for them and then they get subject to these attacks. the businesses and corporations are one thing but as you write the tea party activists. they say the countr save the cof their regular jobs on the basement or church, church halls they don't have resources. they need the substance and wherewithal to go up against these guys.
there's a kind of umbrella of tea party organizations they do support free speech and in washington and around the country as well. they tried to bring to light abuses like this when they hear them and sometimes they file lawsuits on behalf of people that have their constitutional rights violated. and you can go online an and putting some things for the free speech for the defense of free speech and you will come up with some resources. so always remember that you are not alone if this happens to you. >> host: so, looking down the road in the last minutes or so, are you optimistic about where we are going to? is there a trend to fight back on this infringement?
>> i'm worried about the tactics because they've gotten worse over time but i'm optimistic that more people understand what some of those are and are fighting back against it like some of the think tanks that were hit alongside of exxon have been magnificent. some of them turn around the attorney generals in the same as this and asa result of the subps getting wise to some of this. >> it's been so great. thank you for what you've done. looking forward to the next book. >> ..