Guest: Marc Lamont Hill, Doug Nick, Steve McMahon, Todd Harris, Sherrod Brown, Amy Walter
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: So who‘s going to pay the oil bill?
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews out in Chicago. Leading off
tonight: Who‘s going to pay? Are we looking at a giant taxpayer bill for
cleaning up that oil spill in the gulf? Is BP doing all it can to keep
from paying the damage in the gulf? Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown says they
shouldn‘t get away with it, and he‘s at the top of our show tonight.
Plus, Tuesday night fights. We‘re just five shorts days from the
hottest/ political night this year until election day. Three big names are
on the ballot and in trouble, and we‘ll give you the lowdown on who‘s
likely to make it and who could go down.
Also, should public schools be teaching kids something called “ethnic
studies”? Shortly after passing its tough immigration law, Arizona is now
placing restrictions on so-called “ethnic studies.” Is that a good idea?
Plus, some companies are spending again. Small businesses are hiring
again. And yet when President Obama traveled to Buffalo today, he was met
with this sign, “I need a freakin‘ job.” How do Democrats win the battle
over the economy?
And “Let Me Finish” tonight with the silence of the lambs, the
Republicans who have yet to come forward—none of them—and say theirs
is the party of Lincoln not Limbaugh.
Let‘s start with the politics and financing of the oil spill. Senator
Sherrod Brown is a Democrat. Senator, I want you to watch and listen to
this statement by a BP executive, Lamar McKay, on Monday. Let‘s all listen
together to this statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAMAR MCKAY, BP AMERICA CHAIRMAN: We have said exactly what we mean.
We‘re going to pay the legitimate claims.
saying we will pay all legitimate claims...
going to pay all legitimate claims...
pay all legitimate claims...
all legitimate claims...
every legitimate claim...
We‘re going to pay all claims that are legitimate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: “Legitimate” seems to be the key word. What are they
hanging on that word for, Senator?
SEN. SHERROD BROWN (D), OHIO: Well, who knows? I‘m not a lawyer.
And I know, though, that what he says isn‘t necessarily what he‘s going to
do. I think the issue is the law has to compel this company, which made a
mistake and which has a history of violating OSHA rules—we can talk
about that in a second, what happened in Texas City, Texas, five years ago
and what hasn‘t happened since with OSHA rules and environmental rules.
And it was—you know, the last decade, Chris, as you know, has been
a question of the oil industry and Wall Street and others staying a step
ahead of the sheriff. And the sheriff hasn‘t really been on the beat with
the Bush administration on environment or on worker safety rules. That‘s
why this is a different day, and we‘ve got to make sure that they do what
they are supposed to do under the law.
MATTHEWS: Well, it looks like they‘ve got another plan. Look at this
video from Thinkprogress.org. Republican congressmen—a number of them -
- and Frank Luntz, the guy who speaks the—teaches them what words to use
at a fundraiser this week on Capitol Hill. Let‘s watch this spectacle.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice to meet you, Congressman Sessions. I just
have a quick question. Do you think on the morning that the House is going
to talk to a lot of these BP and other oil executives, it‘s good that your
caucus is meeting with the oil and gas industry for fundraiser?
REP. PETE SESSIONS ®, TEXAS: You know, what I think is really good
is that Barack Obama wants oil prices to skyrocket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Frank Luntz went to the fundraiser. Did he give
you that talking point?
SESSIONS: No, I—if you see, I put them on the floor of the House
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Any messaging advice on this BP spill?
FRANK LUNTZ, GOP POLLSTER: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As a guru?
LUNTZ: Yes, the first messaging advice is there are way too many
people in really nice suits in one place at one time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly after the oil spill, you said that oil
rigs, quote, “have a very positive environmental record.” Given the
tragedy of the spill, and you know, in light of how bad the damage is now,
do you still hold that view?
REP. TODD AKIN ®, MISSOURI: You know, I do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: So Senator, on the very week that the United States Senate
and Congress are supposedly looking at this travesty, this tragedy down in
the Gulf of Mexico, and we‘re watching that oil pour out of that well, the
very week they‘re supposed to be watchdogs, they‘re over raising money at
the Republican club, the Capitol Hill Club, getting advice from Frank Luntz
about how to word their way out of it. In other words, the oil companies
and the Republican Party are in bed together here, planning the way to PR
their way out of this problem without having to pay for it.
BROWN: Yes. Chris, one of the things you‘ve done very well on
HARDBALL in the last many months, is show that depending on the issue, you
know who the Republican benefactor is. During the health care bill, the
Republican benefactor is the insurance industry. And they pretty much set
up—set the direction and gave the talking points to Republicans. During
the Wall Street reform we‘re doing right now, it was the banking industry.
During all of these—this oil spill and all that‘s happened with BP and
other companies, their benefactor has been the oil industry.
I mean, you can write the talking points. You can see their behavior.
And they will always cover for their friends, and that‘s what they did on
health care, that‘s what they‘re doing now on the financial reform, and
that‘s what they‘re going to continue to do on this issue with the
terrible, terrible environmental tragedy and the worker safety tragedy that
Don‘t forget, I mean, people aren‘t talking about this much, but 11
workers were killed on this oil platform and all we talk about is the
spill. That‘s understandable. But 11 families lost loved ones, just like
15 families and 100 people injured back in Texas City, Texas, when BP
didn‘t follow worker safety rules then. They had the biggest fine ever
levied by the OSHA by OSHA. That was in the Bush years. And they got—
they got fined again with a real regulator in place, Secretary Solis, for
not doing what they were supposed to do in the ensuing five years.
So we know their game. It‘s important that the administration come
down, that Congress does the right thing and says, No more on this. No
liability limits. You‘re going to pay. You‘re going to pay for cleaning
up the spill, and you‘re going to pay those businesses that lost—lost
their businesses or lost the big parts of their revenue because of this oil
MATTHEWS: Well, the public seems to agree with you, Senator. Here‘s
the new NBC/”Wall Street Journal” poll just out. It finds that the gulf
oil spill is the top news story that concerns people, 7 points more than
the Times Square bomber, more than that terrorist incident, and more than
the immigration fight out in Arizona.
Big oil is the big target right now. It‘s the top corporate mess that
bothers people, bigger than the mortgage mess or even Goldman Sachs.
People give the federal government a little more credit than BP in handling
So there‘s the question. Can you legally require the oil company
here, BP, which made zillions of dollars in profits, to pay for the Coast
Guard activities, to pay for the clean-up along the shore, to compensate
the fishermen and the shrimp people and all the other people? Can you make
them do it?
BROWN: Yes, of course, we can. I mean, the problem is, Senator
Menendez from New Jersey, tried to—Democrat from New Jersey—tried to
do it today. The Republican senator from Alaska objected. They‘re going
to continue to block things, continue to obstruct.
We can legally do it. We pass this bill, get it—eventually, get it
to the president then. Then the—BP has to reimburse the Coast Guard.
Out of their—this last quarter, as you know, Chris, as you said -- $5.6
billion in profits just the last quarter alone, BP. Exxon had bigger
profits. Shell had profits almost as big. That‘s just one quarter.
They‘re going to have to pay out of those profits, pay the Coast Guard
back. They‘re going to have to pay other private companies that have done
the clean-up, everybody else, you bet.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Is there any way to get to the executives who have
made these decisions, these sloppy decisions about the way they drill, what
looks to be shortcuts? They didn‘t put the drill mud down in there. They
operated in a way that was fast and loose. Is there any way to make the
people who made those decisions pay, not the ultimate consumer, who might
finally be hit at the gas pump?
BROWN: Yes. I don‘t know the answer to that. As I said, I‘m not a
lawyer. I don‘t know—I don‘t know what you do with the executives. If
they have civil or criminal liability, I think you absolutely pursue it. I
mean, they‘re making decisions—these executives made decisions by their
cutting corners that killed 11 men, and I assume women, but 11 human
beings, workers on that platform. They made decisions that have continued
to ignore worker safety violations in Texas City, Texas, near Galveston.
They‘ve continued to make those decisions and simply cut corners,
ignore them, hoping—forgetting that George Bush isn‘t president anymore
and going to give them a pass on worker safety, that there‘s a new sheriff
in town, a new administration that‘s going to lean on them and enforce
these worker safety laws.
MATTHEWS: Have you got the president behind you on this bill? I see
your co-sponsors. They‘re an impressive list, a lot of Northeastern guys.
But do you have the president of the United States behind you on this
measure to force big oil, BP in this case, to pay for the mess they made?
BROWN: Yes, obviously, I can‘t speak for the president, but the White
House seems engaged on this. They don‘t—of course, they don‘t believe
taxpayers should pay for this. The clean-up and the liability, somebody‘s
going to have to pay, and it sure as hell shouldn‘t be taxpayers. We‘ve
gone through that. It needs to be the people who made the mistakes, and
that‘s a company right now that reported just a couple of weeks ago over $5
billion in profits just in their first quarter.
MATTHEWS: Well, you know how your parents told you when you were
growing up and you get in a car accident, Don‘t say anything to the police,
don‘t say you‘re sorry, don‘t say anything, just don‘t talk? That‘s the
way that BP are operating. They‘re not saying nothing! They won‘t tell us
anything responsible for this, and they‘re the ones that did it.
Anyway, thank you, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio.
BROWN: Thanks, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Coming up: Just days away until primary night in some of
the hottest races in the country—Arkansas, Kentucky, and of course, down
to the wire in Pennsylvania, with Arlen Specter fighting for his 45-year
career against Joe Sestak, the admiral. We‘ll get to the lay of the land
in those races coming up right next.
By the way, in a minute, the state of Hawaii takes on the birthers.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Hawaii takes on the birthers. Hawaii‘s Republican governor
signed into law a bill allowing state agencies to ignore repeated requests
for more documents on President Obama‘s birth. State officials in Hawaii
have regularly released President Obama‘s birth certificate and say his
original birth records are indeed on file with the state‘s health
We‘ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. We‘re in the breakdown (ph), the
most important time of any election, the final 72 hours, and that‘s exactly
what‘s about to happen in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky, where voters
are about to decide what happens in three big U.S. senate races.
Here‘s Joe Sestak‘s latest ad in Pennsylvania to give you just a taste
of the action in PA. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The race between Sestak and Specter is a dead
heat, so compare the records. On supporting Pennsylvania seniors, Sestak
scores better. On standing up for civil rights, Sestak. Protecting the
environment, Sestak‘s record is twice as good as Specter‘s. Issues
important to women? Sestak‘s record is better. The best Democrat for
Pennsylvania‘s future, Joe Sestak.
REP. JOE SESTAK (D-PA), SENATE CANDIDATE: I‘m Joe Sestak and
authorized this message because it‘s time for a new generation of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: And wow (ph), I got great news for everybody from that area
up there in Philadelphia and anywhere in the area. We‘re going to be live
from Lowe‘s (ph) Hotel in Center City. That‘s right on East Market near
city hall. All night long on Tuesday, MSNBC is going to be up there. We
HARDBALLers are going to be present to watch this amazing (INAUDIBLE)
Tuesday night. That‘s in Philly. Please come down and watch us on East
Market right near the Convention Center.
Now a Pittsburgher! Howard Fineman joins us now. He‘s an MSNBC
political analyst. And “Hotline‘s” Amy Walter, who‘s been so good on these
topics lately. I‘ve been watching you all over the place, Amy. You first
this time. This Sestak ad has been criticized by the people working for
Arlen Specter, by Chris Nicholas (ph), as shameful because it shows Arlen
back when he was getting chemo, where he looked particularly bad. I mean,
he‘s 80 years old. I mean, he looks 80, of course. But he looked
particularly bad a while back, when he was getting chemo.
Is that unfair, to show an ad with his picture in that condition?
Your thoughts, Amy.
AMY WALTER, “THE HOTLINE”: Oh...
MATTHEWS: Or is all fair in love and war?
WALTER: Listen, these are the last few days here of this campaign.
Now, I‘m actually surprised, though. When you look at that ad that you
just put up there, that‘s a pretty soft comparative ad. And this wasn‘t
exactly—this is not slash and burn. Compare this to what‘s going on in
Arkansas, which is much more contentious. And you‘re going to actually get
whoever comes out of this primary—they‘ve been banged up a little bit—
but this has not been the sort of dirty tricks kind of thing that...
MATTHEWS: So you don‘t have any problem...
WALTER: ... you‘ve seen in others.
MATTHEWS: Howard, what do you think about that “death warmed over”
picture of Arlen there on the left? What do you make of that?
HOWARD FINEMAN, “NEWSWEEK,” MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that‘s
combined with the phrase, “It‘s time for a new generation,” and so forth.
FINEMAN: You know, that‘s what they‘re doing at the end. But on the
other hand, I think Sestak‘s people, who I talked to just a little while
ago, know that for the most part, they have to try to finish positive here.
At least, that‘s what they told me, Chris, because they feel that they‘ve
put Specter sufficiently on the defensive here, that the issue is no longer
whether people want Specter, because they don‘t. It‘s whether they want
FINEMAN: So I think what you‘re going to see over the next 72 hours
is Sestak trying to finish positive and really, as Amy was saying, not
really do the dirty stuff because it‘s the tough tactics that I think, to
some extent, Specter is known for, and that reputation has hurt him in this
WALTER: Yes. You‘re exactly right. And nobody knew who Sestak was
FINEMAN: People still don‘t.
WALTER: In fact, they still don‘t, right.
FINEMAN: That‘s right.
WALTER: Most of the people in Pennsylvania still have absolutely no
idea who this guy is. And so he—he does need to sell himself as a
credible alternative, somebody who‘s a true Democrat. He also hasn‘t had
to go too far to the left in this primary. He sort of makes these vague
references here to, I‘m better on women‘s issues, et cetera. But he‘s not
standing out there saying, Look at how far left I am, please vote for me.
FINEMAN: Although that‘s the import—aside from the shot in the
little picture you mentioned, Chris, that‘s the real purpose of this ad, is
to reach out to traditional Democrats because Specter has not made the sale
with traditional Democrats.
I was talking to my friends in Pittsburgh again today. There‘s very
little enthusiasm for Specter out there. There was a Specter event out
there. A lot of the big politicians in Pittsburgh were not there. I
checked with the White House again today just to be sure, and Barack Obama
is not going back to Pennsylvania for Specter...
FINEMAN: ... you know, before the election. I just checked with
Robert Gibbs about an hour about that. There‘s no chance that the
president will be there for Specter at the end.
MATTHEWS: OK, enough of that until tomorrow night. Let‘s go back to
Arkansas, the home of the Clintons. The pollsters (INAUDIBLE) average up
there has got Blanche Lincoln up by 10. Is that enough, Amy, fighting it
out against the hard-charging Mr. Halter?
WALTER: We just have to remember that it is a runoff state, so she
needs -- - it is not a plurality. She needs to get 50 percent. Everyone
that I talked to, both sides of this thing, think this is going to a
runoff. So the real question is, when all is said and done, we‘re going to
have the end of this not over until June. And who‘s going to be the more -
or in this case, the less banged-up candidate between now and the end of
WALTER: This has been a very tough campaign.
MATTHEWS: Who‘s taking the votes away—who‘s the third candidate or
who‘s pulling the votes away from somebody getting a majority here?
WALTER: This is—you know what? It‘s so funny that you say that
because I can‘t even remember his name right now. I don‘t think anybody
MATTHEWS: ... it‘s a he and he‘s going to get enough votes to...
WALTER: It‘s a he, and he‘s...
MATTHEWS: ... to prevent her from getting 50?
WALTER: Right. All he needs to get are, you know, 5, 6, 7 percent of
the vote. And when you think about the polls in this race—and they‘ve
been all over the place, but these two have basically been stuck. She‘s
been stuck somewhere about, you know, in the mid-40s. He‘s kind of stuck a
little bit underneath that, if we sort of average those all together. And
you know, you can sort of see at the end, yes, the undecided should break
toward Halter, but Blanche Lincoln has done a very good job going after
him, making people question those folks who don‘t want to vote for
WALTER: ... whether they want to vote for him.
FINEMAN: Chris, the other thing in Arkansas is, yes, it‘s Bill
Clinton‘s state and it sometimes votes Democrat, and so forth. It‘s not a
big union state. You know, the unions are backing Bill Halter big-time.
MATTHEWS: It‘s a right to work state.
FINEMAN: OK. Yes. And they‘re trying—the unions are trying to
make an example of Blanche Lincoln by saying, You don‘t be for us, we‘re
going to come after you. They may have picked the wrong place, in the end,
to do it, because of the union thing. And also, Blanche Lincoln has turned
into a populist overnight. She‘s the one saying that the banks shouldn‘t
be allowed to trade in derivatives anymore. She‘s taking a hard line
against the banks. That may be enough, in the end, to save her.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s take a look at them fighting it out. Here‘s
Halter and Lincoln on MSNBC yesterday and today. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. BILL HALTER (D-AR), SENATE CANDIDATE: What I believe, Chuck,
is that I‘m going to stand with working men and women, and I‘m proud to
have the support of over 40,000 working men and women in Arkansas. Senator
Lincoln wanted that support. She wanted that support badly. She‘s in the
past received a lot of financial contributions from labor. But when labor
decided to support me in this race because she‘s turned her back on them,
the fact is that, in her eyes, they became extremists and outsiders
SEN. BLANCHE LINCOLN (D), ARKANSAS: I have been very supportive of
labor and a lot of the things that—that—issues that they have.
I have got well over an 80 percent voting record with the labor
unions, and I fully support workers‘ rights to organize. We‘re a right-to-
work state, and I support that. And I think you can do both.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Howard, is it possible that the actions of the progressive
wing of the Democratic Party here will end up being counterproductive, that
knocking her down, bringing her down below 50, making her fight for that—
that runoff just weakens her for the general; she loses the general; they
never come back in that state for years to come?
FINEMAN: I think it‘s quite possible, Chris.
And I think they—they want to make a lesson. They want to teach
somebody a lesson. I‘m not sure this is the right person or the right
place to do it, because she was probably their best chance, the Democrats‘
best chance, of holding on to that seat there.
MATTHEWS: If they want 60 seats, they got to take a lot of moderates
and conservatives, it seems to me.
WALSH: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: That‘s my view, anyway.
FINEMAN: Well, they have seem to have lost that theory.
MATTHEWS: I know. I know. That‘s the old theory, you need 60. If
you don‘t need 60, we have got a new ball game.
Let‘s take a look at the Rand Paul fight here on front page of today‘s
“Washington Post.” Headline, “The Old Kentucky Reign.”
What is that about, Amy, that odd picture there?
WALSH: The fact that he‘s sitting in shorts and a suit top?
MATTHEWS: Yes. That‘s pretty odd.
WALSH: Which I—you know, listen, if I could get away with it, I
would do—I would do it, too. So...
FINEMAN: You‘re not wearing shorts right now?
WALSH: No. Don‘t tell anybody.
MATTHEWS: OK. Go ahead.
WALSH: So, keep the camera up.
Listen, he—the reign, really, it‘s as much about Mitch McConnell‘s
future as it is about who the eventual nominee is. Obviously, McConnell
putting his prestige on the line endorsing Trey Grayson, going up with the
TV ads supporting him. This comes in the wake, of course, of Bob Bennett,
his good friend, losing, and lieutenant, losing in the convention process
in Utah last weekend.
So, you know, the real talk around Washington now is, boy, is this guy
sort of losing his juice, if he loses two of his top people to these sort
of outside primary surges?
WALSH: It looks right now, Rand Paul, like he does have all the
momentum going into this weekend. I would be surprised if he didn‘t win.
MATTHEWS: Howard, I see the excitement around Rand Paul and Ron Paul
the way I saw it about the early Goldwater, before he got into trouble with
the trigger finger stuff around ‘64...
MATTHEWS: ... and extremist-looking. And I think there‘s a lot of
excitement about libertarian politics. People—young people seem to like
freedom, really basic freedom from the government.
FINEMAN: Well, it‘s the next turn of the wheel. While Barack Obama,
who is not all that popular in country right now, and has had to support a
lot of government programs that are controversial to some people and that
haven‘t necessarily resulted in nirvana arriving yet, other people are
saying, especially young people saying, let‘s take another look.
You know, Mitch McConnell, I was—I learned this yesterday—is not
going to be in Kentucky on election night, which means to me that he knows
that his guy, Trey Grayson, is going to lose.
However, McConnell is supposed to attend a unity breakfast of
Republicans on Saturday. And he‘s made friendly noises toward Rand Paul,
lately. The body language of this now, Chris is that Mitch McConnell is
going to need Rand Paul more than Rand Paul needs Mitch McConnell...
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know. You know what I‘m getting out of this?
FINEMAN: ... because Mitch McConnell is going to have to try to get
right with the Tea Party people. And that‘s Rand Paul.
MATTHEWS: What I‘m getting out of this discussion with you two
experts is, finally, this: Sestak thinks he‘s going to win there, for—
he‘s going to go positive. If he thought he was going to lose, he would be
going negative at this point, right?
WALSH: That‘s right.
MATTHEWS: It looks like the other race won‘t be decisive this time.
It‘s going to a runoff. Amy has got it pretty clear. It looks like nobody
is going to get 50. Halter is going to make the point that she is not
strong enough. So, that‘s going to be interesting.
But it looks like Rand Paul is going to win, right? Am I right?
FINEMAN: Yes. Yes.
MATTHEWS: Is that the summation? Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I think I...
MATTHEWS: Great reporting there.
Thank you, Howard Fineman.
Thank you, Amy Walter.
And a reminder: We will be at the Loews Hotels, as I said, in Center
City, Philly. It‘s right near—well, it‘s right near the Convention
Center, right near the old Reading Terminal, where my dad used to get on
the train there. Anyway, a very familiar sight, Loews Hotels, the old
Anyway, up next, what happens when the new prime minister of Britain
is reminded that he once called the new deputy prime minister a joke? He‘s
got to take that back.
Stick around for the “Sideshow.”
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the “Sideshow.”
First: the ties that bind. Britain‘s got a true team of rivals now,
with conservative Prime Minister David Cameron joining us with Deputy Prime
Minister Nick Clegg, who is the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, to
form a coalition government.
Yesterday, during their first press conference together, Cameron was
asked about a comment he made during the campaign about his then-opponent.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you now regret, when once asked what your favorite joke
was, you replied, “Nick Clegg”?
And, Deputy Prime Minister, what do you think of that?
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We‘re all going to have—I‘m
afraid I did once. I‘m...
CAMERON: We‘re all...
CAMERON: Come back.
CAMERON: We‘re all going to have things that we said thrown back at
us. And, you know, and there‘s a serious point in this, which is, if you
want to spend the next five years finding Lib Dem politician who slightly
disagree with Conservative politicians about this or a slightly nuanced
policy, you can look lots. But we‘re looking at the bigger picture.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Imagine a country run by Hugh Grant and Colin Firth.
Anyway, hey, Obama and Hillary get along pretty well. Come to think
of it, so do Sarah Palin and John McCain. As Henry Kissinger wants put it
so well, power is the greatest aphrodisiac.
Moving down to Florida: no refunds available. Independent Senate
candidate Charlie Crist has just backtracked and said he will not return
campaign donations from supporters who gave to his campaign when he was
still a Republican.
Crist defended the decision, saying, people gave to a good cause and
we‘re going spend it on a good cause.
Well, as Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh of California once said, if you can‘t
take their money, eat their food, drink their booze, and something else I
forget right now, and vote against them in the morning, you don‘t belong in
Finally: Ted Haggard back in action. Remember him? He was the
Christian right‘s rising star until his relationship with a male prostitute
was revealed in 2006. Well, catch this. Haggard still holds prayer
meetings at his house in Colorado Springs. And he and his wife have just
filed official papals—papers—not papals—to have that house
declared a church called the Saint James—well, for tax purposes.
Haggard said he hopes to see that same small-town church someday
become a full-fledged ministry.
Well, I wonder what Saint James thinks of all this tax policy.
Anyway, up next: First, Arizona passed that controversial illegal
immigration law. And now the state has restricted classes in ethnic
studies in public schools, things like Chicano studies. Is that a good
move for anybody? That‘s our debate straight ahead.
You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC
A triple-digit decline for the Dow on word of a bank probe and
cautious comments from Cisco, the Dow Jones industrials falling 114 points,
the S&P 500 slipping 14 points, and the Nasdaq tumbling 30 points.
Banks leading the decline on news that the New York attorney general
is probing eight banks to see if they duped the ratings agencies about the
quality of their securities.
Cisco shares down 4.5 percent at the close. The company‘s CEO says
he‘s watching events in Europe very closely, as it accounts for 20 percent
of the firm‘s revenue.
Department stores Kohl‘s and Macy‘s shares seeing significant
declines, despite beating earnings expectations. Kohl‘s delivered a weak
outlook, but Macy‘s posted strong profits and growing margins.
And Alcoa was the lone gainer on the Dow on word it will shut down an
Italian facility in an attempt to keep it open long-term.
That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
After passing the toughest crackdown on illegal immigration, Arizona
just passed a new law that places restrictions on what are called ethnic
studies classes in the public school system. The new law prohibits courses
that promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, that promote resentment
toward a race or class of people, or are designed primarily for pupils of a
particular ethnic group, or advocate solidarity, instead of the treatment
of pupils as individual citizens.
Should ethnic studies classes be taught? An Arizona lawmaker is
aiming to eliminate the course work altogether. Well, we will see.
Doug Nick is the federal liaison for the Arizona Department of
Education. He works for the Arizona government. And Marc Lamont Hill is a
professor of education in African-American studies at Columbia.
Let me go to Doug first.
Doug, you‘re first here. Explain the classes that are—have been
given in Arizona that you now wish to stop.
DOUG NICK, FEDERAL LIAISON, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION: Well,
the situation came to light about four years ago.
My boss, superintendent Tom Horne, and our deputy, Margaret Dugan,
were made aware by some teachers down at the Tucson Unified District that
there were schools—or classes, rather, that were directed specifically
towards segregating people in—students into racial and ethnic
So, you have African-American studies and Asian studies and Native
American studies, and then you have Chicano studies or raza studies, raza
And we were concerned because what we were hearing from some teachers
down there was that the—and specifically, in the case of the raza
studies, some of the students were essentially becoming radicalized through
a rather radical notion of the idea that the Southwestern United States,
places like Arizona, New Mexico, California, all the way up, in some cases,
to Wyoming, all these states that are part of this country, and have been
for obviously many years, are really part of what is called Aztlan, and
that students should be encouraged, if only by sheer numbers of population
and growing and through illegal immigration, if need be, should come in and
reconquer, or reconquista would be the...
NICK: ... word.
MATTHEWS: OK. Who—to make the point, who—who came up with
these textbooks? Are they in the textbooks, this theology or philosophy
you‘re describing of sort of separation again? Is there something in the
textbooks that makes this case that you can point to?
NICK: Absolutely. There are several textbooks.
There‘s one that uses the term the pedagogy of oppression. So, what
we‘re doing is, we‘re taking 15- and 16-year-old students and we‘re telling
them, you may not realize you‘re oppressed. We actually had a student come
up to the legislature and testify to this effect, that, when she was a
freshman, said started this class, and, after the end of the class, she
realized, oh, I am in fact impressed—oppressed, when, before, she didn‘t
feel that way.
Well, why is that? That‘s indoctrination. We have a text called
“Occupied America,” which talks about how we—the Chicano population, the
Hispanic population needs to rise up and smash the gringo.
It‘s very inflammatory language and it‘s inappropriate in an
MATTHEWS: I‘m stunned. I thought I knew a lot about American
Professor, I didn‘t know this kind of stuff was being taught. What do
you make of it, professor?
MARC LAMONT HILL, PROFESSOR OF URBAN EDUCATION AND AMERICAN STUDIES,
TEMPLE UNIVERSITY: Well, first of all, that‘s not what is happening.
It‘s possible that there are a few rogue teachers somewhere who are
going above and beyond what the curriculum suggests. But “Pedagogy of the
Oppressed,” as was just referenced, is not a book about overthrowing a
government. And it‘s not about convincing students that they‘re oppressed.
It‘s a book about, actually, multiculturalism. It‘s a book about
progressive education. In fact, the book is used in education schools all
around the country to encourage dialoguing with students and doing group
work and all the things that No Child Left Behind now calls for.
You know, this—ethnic studies is not about divisiveness. It‘s not
about separating people from America. It‘s letting people know that they
are more involved in America.
HILL: We have always had ethnic studies. It‘s just that the
ethnicities that we were focused on were European. They were Irish. They
were Polish. They were Russian.
And now we‘re saying there are other people who also have ethnicities
who count as well. And it‘s also factually untrue to say that the purpose
of ethnic studies is to put black people on one track and Chicanos on
another track. No.
White people will take African-American studies. Black people will
take Asian studies. The point is to expose everyone to the range of
cultures and ethnicities that makes America good.
Back to you, Doug. Your thoughts.
MATTHEWS: Explain “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and how you believe
it clearly makes an ideological statement.
NICK: Well, that is just one of the other text. The other text is
called “Occupied America,” in which it talks about smashing the gringo.
And there are many, many other examples that we have found, not only
through our investigation—we have read the curriculum. We have spoken
to teachers down there.
The idea—the very idea that, in 2010, we would go back decades and
decades to a very dark time in this country in which segregation was
accepted, and then go back to segregation and saying, if you are an
Hispanic American or you are an African-American, you must take a certain
track of ethnic studies is completely against the notion, as my boss talks
about, with Dr. King‘s speech in 1963, where people should be judged for
the content of their character, not based on the color of their skin or
their ethnicity. This is exactly what is not happening in these studies.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you. A lot of these kids come from families
that came from Mexico or Colombia or Guatemala—mostly from Mexico.
Is there something inherently wrong in them taking a class or two in
high school that explains their heritage, where they came from?
NICK: Of course not. We would absolutely support a comprehensive
curriculum that does in fact cherish other cultures, not excluding and
certainly not segregating by race.
That is the exactly the opposite of the message that American public
education should be doing.
HILL: But it‘s factually untrue to suggest that the curriculum
advises teachers to separate people by race. And even if that were the
case, that‘s not an argument for getting rid of ethnic studies. That‘s an
argument for amplifying ethnic studies and diversifying ethnic studies, so
that everyone has access to it.
But that‘s not what initial intention of it was.
NICK: I have to say, in practice, though, that‘s a non sequitur,
because it does in fact—it absolutely, positively separates students by
HILL: It does not. That‘s absolutely...
NICK: Why else would you call it African-American studies, or Raza
studies. By it‘s very nature, it should be. You can certainly teach this
in world history, American history.
HILL: That‘s not true at all.
NICK: In fact, the standards of Arizona, which the chairman—the
president of the History Channel Television network came here a few years
ago. She said she had read the history standards for all 50 states, and
Arizona‘s were head and shoulders above the other 49. That‘s how much we
HILL: Here‘s the reality: it‘s called African-American studies
because they‘re the focus of the curriculum. It‘s not a non sequitur.
Students in America take European history. It doesn‘t mean you have to be
European to take it. It just means that that‘s the subject that you‘re
studying. We want all students to take ethnic studies. We want all
students to take Asian students, all students to take African-American
studies, because they all make up America. And that‘s what we want them to
have access to.
And if people are dividing people by race tracks, then that‘s a
problem. But that‘s not an argument against ethnic studies. That‘s an
argument on a school level for how people are administering the program.
Lastly, all data suggests—all data suggests that students who have
access to ethnic studies programs do better on the high stakes tests. They
do better on the AIMS (ph) test than people who don‘t take it. So even in
the terms of the educational aims of the state, it makes educational sense
take these courses for everybody.
MATTHEWS: What about that point, Doug. Isn‘t it a way—I‘m not
going to make a side here. But isn‘t—make a case, if you‘re like first-
generation American, your parents are from Mexico or somewhere else,
doesn‘t it encourage that kid to take more of an interest in study in
English, studying in school, which is going to help them become more
assimilated, if part of that education includes something about where he
NICK: There‘s absolutely no reason why we would oppose the idea of
learning about other cultures. It is the separating—
MATTHEWS: No, your own—the one your parents came from. No, with a
particular emphasis on the one your parents came from. You see something
wrong with that? I‘m just trying to be honest here. You do see something
wrong with that?
NICK: I see something wrong when you take kids and say, because you
have a particular racial construct, which is a human construct—it is not
something that is anything but what humans have placed upon themselves, to
say you‘re going to be divided by race. I thought we were beyond that. We
should be beyond that.
HILL: In Arizona, you thought we were beyond that?
NICK: Yes, we are in fact.
HILL: You don‘t see any irony in being from Arizona and saying you
think we‘re beyond distinguishing people on the basis of race? You see no
irony in that?
NICK: I see a lot of irony in somebody telling me that simply because
I‘m from Arizona, I somehow must take a certain point of view. That, sir,
HILL: Exactly, which is why I didn‘t say that. What I said is you‘re
in the midst of a state that‘s engaged in a set of policy practices that
hinge upon race. I don‘t know you. I don‘t know what your beliefs are.
But you‘re in the midst of a state that depends on these practices. That‘s
exactly why we need this curriculum.
MATTHEWS: You know what, this isn‘t a bad argument. And I thank you
both for coming on the show. And it has been quite civil, believe it or
not. It has been. I know it‘s a hot argument. Marc Lamont Hill,
professor, thanks for coming on. This will be continued.
Up next, President Obama pushes the economy up in Buffalo today. But
it‘s an angry voter out there. This guy is holding up a sign that says, “I
need a freaking job.” He was polite, too. Our strategists break down how
to win the fear and loathing issue of the economy, which is still
apparently, officially, a recession.
In one minute, an eye-opening number about the cost of war. This is
HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: The war in Afghanistan is now costing this country more
than the war in Iraq. Pentagon spending in February, the most recent month
available, was 6.7 billion dollars in Afghanistan, versus 5.5 billion
dollars in Iraq. As recently as last year, the war in Iraq costs twice as
much as the war in Afghanistan. And in 2008, the war in Iraq was three
times as expensive.
By the way, the combined cost of both wars has now surpassed one
HARDBALL will be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Frankly, I had one side of the aisle just sit on the sidelines
as the crisis unfolded. And if we had taken that position, just thinking
about what was good for my politics, millions more Americans would have
lost their jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. That‘s President Obama up in
Buffalo today talking up his efforts to get Americans back to work. Next
week, he‘ll be doing the same thing near in Youngstown, Ohio. But this
billboard in Buffalo shows what he‘s up against. Take a look at that. It
speaks for itself. “Dear Mr. President, I need a freaking job, period.
Sincerely,” then you have a number there, INAFJ.org.
Let‘s look at the video that that organization made, just to get
started tonight. They‘ve got organizations. They‘ve got videos,
everything. Let‘s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, I need a freakin‘ job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need a freakin‘ job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need a freakin‘ job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need a freakin‘ job.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need a freakin‘ job. Can you hear what I am
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well let‘s go right now. That‘s about economic
frustration. It‘s still out there. Which party can gain the edge this
fall? It‘s not a hard one. Steve McMahon, you‘re playing defense. Todd
Harris, you‘re happy. Look, I can read American life by looking at the
face of Todd Harris. He is happy as a pumpkin over there—Jack
O‘Lantern, I should say.
Todd, let me ask you this question, is it fair to dump on the
president, to put all the heat on him a year in office, basically? He‘s
been in a year and two months now. What do you think? Is it fair?
TODD HARRIS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Absolutely. Look what he‘s done
in—in the course of that time. You know, Stimulus spending, close to a
trillion dollars in wasted, bloated government, a health care plan that is
basically going to be, you know, first step toward a government takeover of
People need jobs. This—this movement, you know, I need a freakin‘
job, I think that they put—they hit the nail right on the head. What
they see is a White House that is out of touch with the needs of the
average working American. This focus on spending money on debts, a promise
from the president that this was—if we just spend all this money, it
will create jobs and it will bring down unemployment.
The exact opposite has been the case. The White House still doesn‘t
seem focused on it. And they‘re going to pay a price for it.
MATTHEWS: I love the way Republicans talk populist all of a sudden.
But the president‘s coming off not as a populist right now, but as sort of
Cool Hand Luke. He‘s there with the short sleeves, but very cool. There‘s
Todd Harris jumping up and down like Huey Long. What‘s going on here?
What‘s going on, Steve? It seems like the sides have been shifted here.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Todd seems to be taking
pleasure from the fact that so many Americans are suffering. What we need
to do here, at this point, Chris, I think is remind Todd of what Barack
Obama and his administration inherited. We all know that the economy was
in a shambles, Wall Street was about to fall apart. We were on the verge
of an economic collapse worldwide.
The president did invest in this economy. And you can see the results
every single day. Last month, there were more jobs created than there have
been for four years. Just yesterday, the unemployment numbers suggested
fewer people filed for new unemployment than at any time in the recent
So things are getting better. Wall Street is—I‘m sorry, the Dow
Industrials has recovered to the point where people can now look at their
401(k)s again. Obviously, unemployment is the last thing to pick up. But
it is starting to pick up. This administration has a story to tell. And
the first story is how they recovered from what George Bush and the
Republicans left them.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let‘s go to immigration right now. I have a thought
here, immigration. Let‘s talk about there‘s better than two to one support
now for the Arizona law. People are very conservative about this issue.
Latinos, of course, disagree. They feel that they‘re being oppressed on
this law. They think it‘s more an attack on them; 70 percent of them
oppose the bill.
But it seems to me, Todd Harris, that your side of the political fence
is benefiting here. People are angry about illegal immigration. But are
you going to do anything about it or just exploit it? Just sit on it—
HARRIS: Well, people are angry about illegal immigration. I do think
MATTHEWS: So what are you going to do about it?
HARRIS: There will probably be a short-term political bump for
Republicans. But I think on the long term, both parties are at risk if
this issue is not resolved. On the Republican side, you‘ve got this huge
pool of Hispanic voters that want to see some resolution to this issue.
And on the Democratic side, you‘ve got a huge pool of blue-collar,
independent white voters who are going to be very uncomfortable supporting
MATTHEWS: So your party‘s not going to do anything. I hear no action
HARRIS: Chris? Chris? Chris, that‘s absolutely absurd. The
immigration problem is never going to be solved until both parties are
willing to first secure the border, and then everything else can follow
after that. But until the American people know that the border is secure,
they‘re not going to listen to any—
MATTHEWS: How do you secure the border? How do you do that?
HARRIS: Well, you know, Senator McCain has a plan that he‘s been
talking about in Arizona.
MATTHEWS: The fence?
HARRIS: It‘s part—
MATTHEWS: You guys are hilarious. You‘re hilarious. You are
hilarious. If anybody thinks—
HARRIS: hold on a minute. I‘m glad you think it‘s funny—
MATTHEWS: You would find a way of getting around that fence, Todd
Harris. I would find a way to get around it. Because you can get around
fences. Go ahead.
HARRIS: People in Arizona are dealing with drug violence spilling
over across the border into Arizona. So I don‘t think anyone thinks that
MATTHEWS: That‘s funny? No, your solution is funny. Go ahead. Your
thoughts, Steve? I don‘t think either party‘s straight on this. I don‘t
think either party wants an identifiable, reliable I.D. card that says you
can‘t work in this country unless you‘re supposed to be here. Nobody wants
to do that on either side. Republicans want the cheap labor. Democrats
want the votes. I understand the deal.
But neither one of you guys is going to tell me you‘re going to stop
illegal immigration. I‘ll believe you if you tell me how you‘re going to
do it. You want to talk now? Who‘s going to do it?
MCMAHON: You‘re absolutely right. But there was a bill last year
that John McCain—or two years ago, that John McCain and Ted Kennedy
sponsored together, which actually began to address both the border issue
and the reality that there are 12 to 15 million people in this country
working, many of whom have families, who aren‘t going to go anywhere. And
it created a system so that they could become naturalized over time by
paying a fine, learning English, keeping their records clean, getting in
the back of the line.
MATTHEWS: But how do you stop—but how does that bill stop future
MCMAHON: Well, it invests in border security to the—
MATTHEWS: You guys are jokes. You guys are absolute jokes. All your
lives, you know the fences don‘t work. And all your lives you—
MCMAHON: I did not say a fence.
MATTHEWS: What did you say? I‘m sorry.
MCMAHON: What I said was there has to be enhanced border security,
but you‘re not going to stop people, as you point out correctly, from
coming over the border to get a job to feed their family. That‘s not going
to happen. And it hasn‘t happened in 20 years, since Ronald Reagan went
through this. It‘s not going to happen now.
Obviously, we have to do something. But we have to start with the
reality that there are people in this country who have families whose
children are American citizens, and they‘re not going anywhere.
MATTHEWS: Do you hear yourselves talk? You say, Steven—I hear
your argument—we have to start with the reality people are here
illegally. I‘m completely with that reality. I don‘t think anybody should
be thrown out. Then the other guy says—Todd says start with the reality
you‘ve got to seal the border. Neither one of you want to start with a
compromise. You both want to start where you want to start. You want to
start with something like amnesty. He wants to start with a wall. And I‘m
telling you unless you agree on doing both, unless you agree on both
together at the same time, nothing‘s going to happen.
And I don‘t trust either party to cut the deal. I‘m sorry. I don‘t
hear it tonight either. Steve McMahon, Todd Harris, I don‘t hear a deal
between you guys. When we return, we‘re still waiting to hear from any
Republican office holder who disagrees on anything with Rush Limbaugh.
We‘re still waiting out there, Mr. and Mrs. America, Republican.
You‘re watching HARDBALL right now, only on MSNBC.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with a thought on our challenge to
the Republican party. His name is Limbaugh. But let‘s call him Boss Tube.
You know, like Boss Tweed, the old political ring leader.
Here‘s the challenge we issued two days ago. It goes to any
Republican member of congress or senator. Stand up and disagree with Rush
Limbaugh on anything. We began this campaign after witnessing this long
debacle of Republican after Republican allowing this radio jock to command
not just the airwaves, but the hearts and minds of a once self-directed
Congressman Phil Gingrey almost made himself famous by challenging
Limbaugh a while back, but then supinely laid down before the forces of El
Rushbo and apologized. I guess he got the word from central command,
nobody fights with Rush Limbaugh.
I think our new NBC poll explains all this. It shows that a majority
of Americans call themselves conservatives, but only about a third call
themselves Republican, which means that the right calls the tune. The guys
in the suits up on Capitol Hill do the dance, at least enough to keep their
Now we‘re watching all this. Bob Bennett got called out a line last
weekend. Tray Grayson‘s turn comes next Tuesday. Charlie Crist quite the
party yesterday, filing as a man without a party. Arlen Specter hit the
lifeboat a year ago.
Maybe Rushbo is the boss, like the old city boss who used to control
the wards, pick the pols, and run the show. Was Dick Daley, the all-time
boss here in Chicago, ever as powerful in his party as Boss Tube is over
his? Daley only had a city. This guy‘s got a country.
Mr. and Mrs. North America, all the ships at sea, now hear this,
nobody talks like the Rush and dares call himself a Republican. But
there‘s still hope. There‘s still tomorrow. And HARDBALL will be
listening, ready and eager to let any Republican senator or congressperson
come here and show your guts, that you‘re still with the party of Lincoln,
That‘s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us. Right now, it‘s
time for “THE ED SHOW.”
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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