updated 2/23/2011 1:14:54 PM ET 2011-02-23T18:14:54

Guests: Ed Rendell, Stephanie Gosk, David Corn, Julia Boorstin, Harold Schaitberger, Hisham Melhem, Cynthia Tucker, Jeff Wentworth, Colin Goddard

CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST:  Workers unite.

Let‘s play HARDBALL.

Good evening.  I‘m Chris Matthews down in Washington. 

Leading off tonight: Going for broke.  Don‘t think for a second that both sides in this fight don‘t think they‘re right.  They do, and with a passion.  The Republican governor of Wisconsin is absolutely convinced he‘s doing what needs to be done, break the backs of the unions when it comes to state budgeting.  He wants them tamed to the point where the worst they can do, the unions, is to get a raise that keeps the workers up with the cost of living, and that‘s it.

And what happens in Wisconsin is darn well not going to stay in Wisconsin.  Already, eight other states are considering either limiting or outright eliminating employee bargaining rights.  The unions know this is their death knell.  Lose their right to bargain, and why would anyone pay dues?  Why would anyone pay union leaders who can‘t do anything for them?

Plus, Libya slips further into chaos.  Moammar Gadhafi gave a rambling speech from the army barracks bombed by the U.S. back in ‘86 saying he would fight to the end.  He ain‘t quitting.  Meanwhile, much of eastern Libya is now in the hands of people calling themselves revolutionaries, and untold hundreds have died at the hands of pro-Gadhafi forces, which include mercenaries brought in from the rest of Africa to kill their own people.  We‘re going to get an update from that region.

Plus, why would anyone allow college students—think about college students—to be carrying concealed weapons all over campus?  Well, the Texas legislature thinks that‘s a dandy idea.  The theory seems to be if everyone on campus has a gun, there will be no gun violence.  I think that‘s the Dodge City theory.  Anyway, let‘s see how far they‘re going with that.

And a new unpublished tell-all book by a former aide to Sarah Palin—

I think we call these people rats, but they‘re useful at times—paints her as a foul-mouthed celebrity obsessed with the press and petty feuds.

Also, we now have footage of JFK and Jacqueline Kennedy in Houston on November 21st, 1963.  We know that day, the night before Dallas.  This never before seen film has just surfaced, and we‘re going to show it to you.  Boy, they look great tonight.  What a sad story.  Tragic.

Finally, if you missed by documentary last night on Bill Clinton, “President of the World,” you can see it at your convenience at your home or anywhere on line.  Just to go—get this straight now—

Hardball.MSNBC.com—Hardball.MSNBC.com.  You‘ll have an hour of fun.  I think it‘s without commercials, by the way.

Let‘s bring in Wisconsin, where the unions are fighting back against Republican governor Scott Walker in a battle to the death.  An old friend of ours from the labor movement, Harold Schaitberger, is president of the International Association of Firefighters, and he‘s joining us right now.

Let‘s talk about this whole issue.  I want to ask you about this thing about this pattern.  We‘re looking at states that couldn‘t be more important politically, Harold.  You know.  You know the issues involved (INAUDIBLE) states.  These are the Midwestern states.  There‘s a whole bunch of them—Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, of course.  You see them all bunched there together, up around the lakes region there in the industrial Midwest.  And then, of course, Florida thrown in there.

All of these states, you‘ve got Republicans in the state legislature -

they did very well in November—out to kill the labor movement by going after public employees and saying you really don‘t have the right to negotiate anything but basic wages.  And even in that case, you better keep them lower than the cost of living—in other words, don‘t get any real raises ever.

Where do you think this is going to end?

HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, PRES., INT‘L ASSN. OF FIREFIGHTERS:  Well, Chris, First of all, let me build on your point because it‘s much broader than this.  This is an outright assault on worker rights and trying to silence the workers‘ voices.  It‘s not just about the eight states—Ohio—by the way, add to that Iowa, Nebraska, the states that are trying to undercut, if not totally eliminate, the collective bargaining rights that these workers have enjoyed over many decades.

This is about right to work laws in a dozen states.  This is about paycheck protection laws that they call protection, which as you well know, is really paycheck deception, which is trying to silence workers‘ voices in the political process -- 15 states.  This is about dues deduction laws that have been passed in Alabama to eliminate the opportunity for workers to even have dues deductions for their unions.  Now it‘s in Tennessee, Oklahoma, spreading into other states.

This is an absolute coordinated, organized attack in the 19 states whose legislatures flipped and those states whose governors became (INAUDIBLE) controlled (ph).  And we have over 500 anti-worker pieces of legislation introduced in those states already in this session.

This is an absolute assault on workers‘ rights, and it‘s an assault on those of us that represent workers to be able to continue to do that and give them a voice and a place at the table where the decisions are made.

MATTHEWS:  Let me bring in former governor Ed Rendell.  He‘s an MSNBC

actually an NBC now political analyst.  Governor Rendell, it‘s great to have you because you‘ve been on both sides of this.  You‘re a pro-labor Democrat.  I think that‘s fair to say.  You‘ve also had to run state and keep a budget.

Look at this fact we got, a new number that just came out.  I‘m amazed at this number.  It‘s in “The Washington Post” this morning.  Only 14 percent—that‘s 1 in 7 -- of whites who don‘t have college degrees think Obama‘s done anything for them.  In other words, this is almost 6 out of 7 white workers who don‘t have college degrees—you can call them working class, though that‘s kind of a British idea—who are really not happy with this president.

Now you go look at the people who are out there lobbying, who are fighting on the picket lines, mostly white people, Midwesterners, not East Coast liberals or elite.  So how do you put this together?  Look at these people.  These are the people you would think would be one of those 14 percent that don‘t like Obama, yet they‘re there on the political activist side of this fight.  How does it work?

ED RENDELL (D), FMR. PA GOV, NBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, I think, Chris, it‘s because they‘re under attack, and if your basic way of life and the things you hold dear are under attack, you‘ll step forward regardless of what your political leanings are.

And I think the governor here went too far.  Let me just say this.  Governor Walker is right to help balance the budget.  In Wisconsin and Pennsylvania and states all across the country, there are going to have to be givebacks on the benefit side.  Workers—government workers are going to have to contribute more to health care, contribute more to pensions.  And the union, I think, has responsibly recognized that.

Where Governor Walker went too far is trying to get rid of collective bargaining.  I heard him say on the air over the weekend that, Look, we won the election, and this is what people want.  Well, people wanted a reduction in spending, but they didn‘t campaign—Governor Walker didn‘t campaign saying he was going get rid of collective bargaining.  Had he done so, I‘m not sure he would have won the election because it‘s not a popular idea with Wisconsinites.

Look, collective bargaining can work.  You know, I took over Philadelphia at the time it was facing its worst financial crisis ever.  I went to the table and said to the unions, You‘re going to have to give us back significant benefits and significant work rule changes.


RENDELL:  They resisted.  I went to the public.  We won that battle.  There was a short-lived strike, and we got the concessions we needed to put Philadelphia back on track.  When I became governor, Pennsylvania state workers didn‘t contribute a dime to their health care.  They‘re now paying 3 percent of their salaries toward health care.

That‘s the way you do it.  Collective bargaining doesn‘t mean the workers always win.  If you make your case to the people, it can be a very important function for balance.

MATTHEWS:  Well said.  OK, let me go—let me to back—Harold Schaitberger—


MATTHEWS:  -- of the firefighter—I want you to look at an ad that‘s put out—it‘s an ad by your overall organization, AFL-CIO, but in Wisconsin.  It‘s a state operation, the state affiliates out there.  Let‘s take a look at this, an ad from the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.  I want you, as a labor leader, to respond to this and maybe back it up.  Let‘s listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Governor Walker, public employees have agreed to the cuts you asked for, and now they‘re simply asking that you not take away their rights.  We stand together or we fall together, and we‘re asking the people of Wisconsin to stand with us.


MATTHEWS:  What do you make of that?  That is a pretty strong ad, and I want to ask you to think about it.

SCHAITBERGER:  Well, Chris, let me tell you, I was at a disadvantage.  I could hear the ad, I couldn‘t see it.  But I thought that absolutely, it was right on point.

Let me—I‘d like to make a—

MATTHEWS:  It‘s basically what the governor was saying—


SCHAITBERGER:  Let me make a comment about the governor‘s comment.  I will say this.  His point is in some ways well made.  But let me make it clear.  The workers out there—we have already made it clear.  Governor Walker already knows that they are prepared to pay toward their pension, to pay toward their health care.

This is simply a cover.  This is a dishonest attempt to simply silence the workers‘ rights—voices and take away their rights.

I‘ll say one thing about Governor Rendell.  And we have had our disagreements.  But he has always upheld the right that workers should be allowed to be represented by their unions at the bargaining table.  This—

Governor Walker says that it‘s not political.  Well, let me just say straightforward, then how does he carve out the cops, state troopers, including our firefighters, by the way, that we did not ask for, and try to pit labor amongst itself?  This is an old—

MATTHEWS:  Why‘d he do it?

SCHAITBERGER:  -- tactic—

MATTHEWS:  Why‘d he do it?

SCHAITBERGER:  -- divide and conquer.  Give a few something, take away from everyone else the same thing, allow the battle to take place within side the house, and you stand back and just watch them fight each other.

That‘s not what‘s happening in Wisconsin because firefighters were marching with, were fighting with, were standing on the front line with and we are staying united with all the workers in Wisconsin.  This is simply a cheap trick by Walker, trying to eliminate the ability—


SCHAITBERGER:  -- of those workers to be represented.

RENDELL:  And Chris—

MATTHEWS:  Well, here he is—let‘s let the governor speak for himself, Governor—Governor Rendell and Harold.  Here‘s Governor Scott (SIC) making a point.  I think you‘re going to disagree with this.  I know you will.  Let‘s listen.  Here he is today, Governor Walker, saying what the fight‘s about.


GOV. SCOTT WALKER ®, WISCONSIN:  But if I have to choose between the demands of a few union leaders, particularly those leaders from outside of Wisconsin, or staying with the hard-working taxpayers of Wisconsin, I‘m going to stand with the taxpayers.  Raising taxes is the last thing you want to do when you have a bad economy.


MATTHEWS:  Well, there he is saying this fight over recognition—


MATTHEWS:  -- over—no, he says it‘s over taxes.  Is it not a budget issue?  If you‘ve got the power of a union to negotiate higher wages or higher benefits down the road or work rules that are beneficial to the employees at the cost of the state, isn‘t it eventually always about the budget?  That‘s what he‘s saying.

SCHAITBERGER:  Well, let me—let me make a point about the budget.  But I would first like to point out that the hundreds of thousands of public workers in Wisconsin are taxpayers and they pay their taxes toward their communities.

Second, let‘s talk about that budget.  In 2009, the Wisconsin pension plan was 99 percent funded.  The pension plan got into trouble during this crash of a market that went from 14,000 to 6,500.  With that said, the reality is there‘s a shortfall.  But these employees are willing to come to the table.

They‘ve already indicated they understand that they have to put up—


SCHAITBERGER:  -- and pay for their part, and they‘re willing to do that.  He doesn‘t want—that‘s not what his—


SCHAITBERGER:  -- game or goal is here.  He wants to strip—


SCHAITBERGER:  -- the workers of their rights—


SCHAITBERGER:  -- and this is coordinated all across this country. 

This is like PATCO in 1982.  That‘s the kind of moment we‘re in right now.

MATTHEWS:  Except that PATCO was an illegal strike.  It was a wildcat.

RENDELL:  Right.  Chris, two points I want to make here—

MATTHEWS:  Right?  Right, Harold?  Wasn‘t that a—just to get the facts straight here, wasn‘t it a wildcat strike by a union that had supported Ronald Reagan?  Let‘s get the facts straight.


MATTHEWS:  Isn‘t that right?

SCHAITBERGER:  -- let me get the—

MATTHEWS:  Didn‘t that union—


MATTHEWS:  -- support Ronald Reagan in that campaign, and didn‘t they break the contract they were under?

SCHAITBERGER:  When they locked those workers up in shackles was at the same time that they were celebrating solidarity and pulling for workers striking for their very same rights.

MATTHEWS:  Well, help me with the facts here.  Weren‘t they pro-Reagan, that union?  I just want the facts straight on this show.

SCHAITBERGER:  You know what?  I can‘t tell you whether they were a pro-Reagan union.

MATTHEWS:  Well, they endorsed Reagan.  And by the way, they broke a contract.  They were wildcatting.  It‘s a different story here.

Let‘s go to Governor Rendell.  I just want the facts here.  Whatever side we take here, let‘s get the facts straight.

RENDELL:  You‘re correct, Chris.  You‘re correct about PATCO.

MATTHEWS:  Let‘s go to the—governor, I want you to look at a couple numbers here.  Everybody thinks that these guys have the hot hand, guys like Christie and Walker.  I‘m not so sure.  Look at the numbers here.  You follow this, I think.  Governor, look at your fellow former governors.  Here‘s Cuomo up at 57 to 33, and he‘s not pulling all these stunts -- 43 to 42 Brown, he‘s up ahead slightly.  Then you‘ve got Christie, who‘s ahead.  And then you got Walker, who‘s behind, according to—according to the Greenberg-Quinlan poll.

Now, it seems to me that this isn‘t a guaranteed “dress for success” operation.  Do you think Christie‘s going to be in great shape two years from now, three years from now, Walker‘s going to—once this thing‘s settled?

Governor Rendell, you‘ve been through these fights.  How do they work out politically?

RENDELL:  It‘s hard to tell, Chris.  It‘s hard to tell what the economy‘s going to look like and whether there‘ll be a recovery.  But I do think Governor Walker is making a second big mistake.  One mistake is that collective bargaining, the unions always win.  That‘s not true.  The public decides, and you can make your case to the public and win those battles.  So you don‘t have to get rid of collective bargaining, you just have to do it right.  It‘s called bargaining.  Bargaining means both sides do it.  And by the way, it‘s at the heart of what has made this country different than all other countries.

Secondly, Governor Walker is being unfair, and the public understands fairness.  At the same time he‘s asking the workers to take these hits, and they‘re taking them, he‘s also cutting taxes for business.  You know, when I became governor, I thought business taxes were too high, and for six straight years, I lowered business taxes, even though I had a deficit when I took over as governor.  But in years seven and eight, the recession hit and I had to start laying off workers.  I stopped cutting taxes for business—


RENDELL:  -- because you can‘t lay workers off at the same time, cut taxes.  Everybody‘s going to have to feel the pain fairly.


RENDELL:  And Governor Walker‘s not doing that, and that‘s why I think public opinion‘s turning against him.

MATTHEWS:  You know, I would have loved to have seen you and Gerry McEntee in the same room fighting with each other.  That must have been quite a sight.

RENDELL:  It was fun!

MATTHEWS:  Mr. Schaitberger, thanks for joining us.  I agree with your argument.

SCHAITBERGER:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  And I think you‘re wrong about PATCO.  I think they were breaking the law and they were a pro-Reagan union.  I just think we‘ve got to keep these things straight, even though you got a good case this time.  Thank you, Ed Rendell.  Thank you, Harold Schaitberger.

RENDELL:  Thank you, Chris.

MATTHEWS:  Coming up: Libya‘s Moammar Gadhafi—boy, this guy is wacky and I think he‘s toast.  He vows to fight to the end.  I think that‘s coming within a day or two, the way it looks right now, although he‘s bringing in mercenaries.  He‘s hiring people to kill Libyans.  What a leader.  I think he needs to go to trial, this guy, not leave the country.  How long will he last?  We‘ll get the report from the region with the experts next, coming up in a minute.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) Senator John Thune of South Dakota has joined the list of people who are not running for president.  Thune announced his decision today, saying President Obama will be tough to beat and that he‘d rather remain in the Senate and fight for conservative principles there.

Thune was always considered a dark horse candidate.  I thought he might have pulled this off, but the rare Republican who could unite the establishment of the party with its conservative Tea Party base.  And I think that would have been the case, although he did vote for the bail-out of Wall Street, which, of course, was a Bush idea.

Thune‘s the latest high-profile Republican to say he‘s not running. 

Jeb Bush has already said that.  Chris Christie‘s pulled himself out.  They‘re out of the race.  They‘re joining the sidelines.  This is fascinating, and I guess good news for the Democrats.

HARDBALL back after this.


MATTHEWS:  Welcome back to HARDBALL.  A defiant Moammar Gadhafi ranted on Libyan state TV for more than an hour-and-a-half today.  Speaking from his Tripoli residence, that was bombed during U.S. air strikes in the ‘80s, he urged his own supporters, such as they are, to hunt down the protesters.  The man‘s deluded.  He vowed to go down fighting to the last drop.


MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER:  (through translator) I will not leave the country, and I will die as a martyr.  Again, I will fight until the last drop of my blood with the Libyan people behind me.


MATTHEWS:  Wow.  The rambling speech came as Libyan military units defected and joined forces with protesters to take control of the eastern part of the country.  Hundreds have died at the hands of Gadhafi (INAUDIBLE) military militias.  He‘s hired African mercenaries, as I said, from sub-Saharan Africa.  Today Gadhafi‘s interior minister stepped down and urged the army to side with the people.

NBC‘s Stephanie Gosk joins us by phone from Cairo.  Stephanie, this looks like one of the most bizarre endings to a bizarre man, 40 years of strangeness, of looking up at the sky when he talks, still doing that, a mystic, at least pretending to be a mystic.  And now it looks like he is going to get killed.

STEPHANIE GOSK, NBC CORRESPONDENT (via telephone):  Well, we don‘t know if he‘s going to get killed, Chris, but, you know, this was vintage Gadhafi today. 

He went on and on and on, at times coming, it seemed, completely unhinged, and calling his supporters, you would say, as they are—it seems he thinks he has a lot of them.  And not only is he calling them to go to the streets.  He‘s calling them to join the fight and join the violence. 

And even after what—the scenes we have heard about and had various reports of people, bodies in the streets, people afraid to leave their homes to collect those bodies, he‘s now inciting even more violence.

You know, we were on the border today with Libya.  And we were talking to Egyptian workers that were fleeing Libya.  They were inside working on construction projects and things.  And they said almost across the board a couple of things. 

One, they were shocked at how quickly the country fell apart.  It really happened rapidly.  And, two, they were talking about these mercenaries and how brutal they are.  They mentioned mercenaries from Sudan, from Chad, that they are well-armed and that they are shooting people on site and indiscriminately.  There‘s a group of men that said that they actually were taken captive by some mercenaries and held until they were able to come up with ransom and then released.

What they described really is a scene of complete anarchy, even though

there are protesters saying they have control of that part of the country -


MATTHEWS:  Do you know of any alliance he has in the world today that would allow him refuge, asylum?  Does he have any friend in the world that would receive him if he showed up on a plane with enough gas to get him there? 

GOSK:  Well, if he does, they‘re not stepping forward very quickly. 

And what we‘re seeing is a leader that is digging his heels in, maybe

because he wants to, maybe because he just has to.  He may not have any

other options.  And he‘s going to stand there and be defiant and tell the -

the protesters and everyone that supports him that he‘s going to fight to the last drop.  And you hear those words, and they‘re pretty chilling—


MATTHEWS:  Well, take care of yourself.  What a strange place to be at this time, Stephanie Gosk, great reporting.  Thank you from the border. 

She‘s in Cairo right now.

Let‘s bring in Hisham Melhem, who is with Al-Arabiya TV. 

We were talking during the break.  It seems like this man is a man without a country and a man without an ally. 


Absolutely.  He is delusional.  He was contemptuous of his own people. He was defiant, but he was also afraid.  You can tell that this man—

MATTHEWS:  He looked spooked. 

MELHEM:  Exactly.  He was spooked completely.  He was standing on the ground that is shaking from under him and it is threatening to engulf him.

His back is to the wall and he‘s essentially declaring war on his own people. 

MATTHEWS:  Tell me about the clan he has behind him.  People say he has a clan.

MELHEM:  It‘s a small clan.  It‘s a small tribe.  This is a tribal society.  Libya is a tribal society. 

And he was right when he said that the tribes are armed and there are tribal loyalties.  And that‘s why we‘re not sure about the army.  The army may splinter, may go—may follow tribal loyalties. 


His—his tribe is not that big.  And according to the minister of the interior, our friends in the opposition, they‘re saying that most of the tribes now are turning against them.  The more violence he commits against them—


MATTHEWS:  OK.  He doubled down, to use a crude expression, when he brought in mercenaries.  It seems to me now, once you bring in a foreign mercenary to kill your own people, you will be hanged.  You will be lucky to—you will not be alive.  You may be tortured.  But there‘s no way you can let someone leave a country who has hired foreigners to kill their own people. 

MELHEM:  Absolutely.

MATTHEWS:  He is a criminal in the eyes of the Libyan people now.

MELHEM:  Absolutely.  And I think the international community, including the United States—

MATTHEWS:  He‘s not going to get the international community.  Is this guy?

MELHEM:  No, no, no.  But I mean the international community, through the Security Council, should say there will be a trial.  Him and his son—he should be treated the way Saddam and his sons were treated.

MATTHEWS:  What about these mercenaries?  How do they get clearance to get to a country like that?  How do they get on to an airplane and leave a country and show up there?

MELHEM:  He brought them.  He brought them.  He brought them from Africa. 


MATTHEWS:  He‘s just—


MATTHEWS:  -- out of countries?

MELHEM:  He‘s been involved in African affairs for a long time. 

Remember, he had his own adventures in Chad and in Uganda.

MATTHEWS:  Yes.  The whites used to do that all over Africa, you know, the Wild Geese.  They were all over the place.


MATTHEWS:  And now that African—black Africans are now in that business.  And they come out of—what, out of the blood diamond business.  They come out of the tough traffic around Congo and places like that. 

Where is he getting them?

MELHEM:  There are a lot of child soldiers in Africa and young men who are -- 


MATTHEWS:  With automatic, semiautomatic weapons. 

MELHEM:  Exactly, yes.  And they are very experts at it. 

MATTHEWS:  They‘re ruthless.

MELHEM:  And they don‘t care about their own people, let alone about a foreign people, like the Libyans.


MATTHEWS:  So, to bring in people, kids or young adults, who are willing to come in with semiautomatic weapons and mow down people because you want to live a couple more weeks—he could have gotten out alive probably a couple weeks ago, right? 

MELHEM:  Not him.  Where would he go?  I mean, this guy is delusional. 

He‘s been there since I was a teenager growing up -- 


MATTHEWS:  Well, couldn‘t he always go to Saudi?  They won‘t take them anymore?

MELHEM:  They Saudis hate his guts.  The people in the Gulf, they hate him.  This guy is universally hated in the Arab world.  He brought nothing but misery, not only to his own people, but—


MATTHEWS:  But, you know, everybody is saying that now.

There‘s the guy in that ridiculous uniform doing this weird cartoonish behavior, comic book behavior.  And everybody says that now, but he was getting away with that for—he went in when Nixon went in.  The first year Nixon was elected president—


MELHEM:  ‘69, 1969, exactly.

MATTHEWS:  He went in with this guy. 

MELHEM:  Exactly. 


MATTHEWS:  He‘s putting on—look at him.  The show he‘s been putting on—and everybody says now he‘s crazy.  But, for 40 years, he was crazy like a fox.  He had the oil.  Is that it?  He had the oil?

MELHEM:  He had the oil. 

He was—

MATTHEWS:  We all put up with him.  We treated him like a diplomat or a foreign leader.  We negotiated with this guy.

MELHEM:  But look at how the Europeans enabled him for decades, the Italian, the Brits and others, because they were thirsty for the best oil in the world, which is Libyan sweet crude—

MATTHEWS:  That‘s right.  That explains it.

MELHEM:  -- which is the easiest to refine.

And, in fact, even in the—after 2004, when Libya was removed from the countries sponsoring terrorism—


MELHEM:  -- American oil companies began to go back to Libya.

And American oil companies and others in the Bush administration were pushing for normalizing relations, putting pressure on the Lockerbie—and the victims of Lockerbie bombing to accept compensation and open up the doors.

And there were people, including neocons who began to visit Libya in the last few years, including Richard Perle and others, to—to refurbish Libya‘s image and Moammar Gadhafi‘s image.  So, there are a lot of enablers to this regime.


MATTHEWS:  Yes, Curt Weldon, the former congressman, was telling me how his son was going to be a great new reform leader. 

What happened to that? 


MELHEM:  You saw his son.  His son was declaring war on his own people. 


MATTHEWS:  Yes, this dream we have—we have this dream that, if we educate people, we make them ophthalmologists or dentists or whatever, we teach this stuff, they‘re going to be somehow different.  Look at Bashar.  He hasn‘t changed much.


MELHEM:  Absolutely.


MATTHEWS:  Bashar Assad is as bad as the old man almost.

MELHEM:  He‘s probably one of the worst autocrats in the Arab world. 

And the fact that you speak good English doesn‘t mean that you are a—


MELHEM:  -- man.


MATTHEWS:  Hisham, we fall for that every day of the week.  You speak good English, you tell some American jokes, we fall for you. 

MELHEM:  Absolutely.


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, Hisham, thank you, Hisham Melhem.  It‘s great to have an expert here.

Up next:  Establish a super state with militia?  Imagine that, bring in a separate state militia to fight who?  This is what some states are up to.  There‘s some crazy people in state legislatures.  They want to legalize—well, we‘re going to get all of it.  They‘re going to allow people who have a store not to serve same-sex couples if they don‘t—we will be right back with some of the crazy stuff going on in the state legislatures. 

We will be right back.


MATTHEWS:  Back to HARDBALL.  Now to the “Sideshow.” 

Coast to coast, the Tea Party parties on.  Look at what they‘re doing in state legislatures across the country.  We‘re talking some weird bills out there.  Here‘s a sampler, courtesy of Salon.com.

Over in Iowa, a bill would make it legal for business owners to refuse services to people in a marriage that violates the owner of that establishment‘s religious beliefs.  Translation:  We reserve the right not to serve gay couples.  It‘s apparently a direct response to Iowa‘s legalization of same-sex marriage.

In Georgia, a bill would require the use of gold or silver to pay money the state owes to someone.  Arizona‘s considering a bill that gives citizenship to someone born here only if at least one parent is an American citizen or a legal resident.

In New Hampshire, the Tea Partiers introduced a bill that to establishes a permanent state force to defend from—quote—“invasion, rebellion or insurrection.”  The cost of this separate new militia, about a half-mil a year.

And over in Montana, a bill calls global warming—quote—“a natural occurrence which is beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana.”

There—you just have to say it.  That‘s all you have to do.  Go away.  Climate change goes away. 

Unless I‘m wrong, these are mostly the work of full-mooners out there and will not become law.  Then again, you can‘t bet on it.

Next, an about-face in Mississippi.  Governor Haley Barbour last week refused to denounce a state proposal that would honor Confederate General and KKK leader Nathan Bedford Forrest on a new state license plate.  Well, Barbour now says he‘d veto any such bill—quote—“The bureaucracy denied it, the legislature won‘t pass it.  And if the legislature passes it, it won‘t become law because I won‘t sign it.”

Governor Barbour may blow kisses at the old guard down there, but he‘s not getting in bed with them. 

Up next:  A tell-all book from a former aide to Sarah Palin—this is candy time—includes tons of e-mails from the former governor.  Somebody has ratted her out.  And it may give us some clues about Palin‘s future.  That‘s ahead. 

If you missed our documentary on Bill Clinton, you can catch it online, as I said, on HARDBALL.com, the whole hour.  It is fabulous.  You have got to watch it as your leisure. 

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


JULIA BOORSTIN, CNBC CORRESPONDENT:  I‘m Julia Boorstin with your CNBC “Market Wrap.”

A major sell-off as Middle East jitters take center stage, the Dow Jones industrials plunging 178 points, the S&P 500 falling 27, and the Nasdaq tumbling 77 points. 

Investors focusing mostly on oil today after Libya halted exports, driving prices up 6 percent to 2.5-year highs.  OPEC and the IEA say there‘s no need to panic; Saudi Arabia has more than enough excess capacity to meet demand.  So, oil-producing energy companies like Chevron and ExxonMobil edged higher on those soaring prices, but refining-oriented companies took a hit on the possibility of higher input costs. 

And airlines got about pounded on potentially higher fuel costs, big banks lower across the board on general jitters and a much larger-than-expected write-down from Bank of America on one of its credit card units.

Finally, Wal-Mart sinking 3 percent after posting its seventh straight quarterly drop in sales. 

That‘s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide—now back to



An unpublished manuscript by a former Sarah Palin top staffer, Frank Bailey, reveals his e-mails with the governor, and shed lights on her world, including her thoughts on other politicians and of course the media, as well as her fierce defense of her reputation, including, apparently, her writing letters to the editor under other people‘s names. 

Isn‘t that for the people to do?  No, she writes them on how great she was.  So she would write letters to the editors saying how great Sarah Palin is as a candidate.

Anyway, for more on these e-mails and the unpublished memoir, I‘m joined by “Atlanta-Journal Constitution” columnist Cynthia Tucker and MSNBC political analyst David Corn, who writes for Politics Daily and also “Mother Jones.”

David, you had one to top this.  When I told you we had the story that she‘s out there—and this is the kind of stuff that goes on in campaigns, but usually by the guys fighting for their fourth term. 



MATTHEWS:  Here she is running the first time writing letters.

“Isn‘t this Sarah Palin of Wasilla really great?” signed Joe Blow, and it‘s her. 


CORN:  Yes.  I have a friend—



MATTHEWS:  No, but she‘s actually claiming to be other people. 

And what did you say? 


CORN:  Well, now it turns out—this is current, not back in the Wasilla days—that she has a fake Facebook page under the name Lou Sarah, her middle—her middle name is Louise—in which she likes what Sarah Palin says on Facebook and likes what Sarah Palin says on FOX News.  So, she has a couple of friends—

MATTHEWS:  How much time delay goes between the time Sarah Palin says something on FOX for big money and somebody writes on Facebook how great it was? 



MATTHEWS:  Here‘s another one.  And I know how people get names wrong, because the names have—she was convinced and fought with her staff over the fact it wasn‘t Mitt Romney.  His real name was Milton Romney. 



CONSTITUTION”:  You know what? 

MATTHEWS:  I don‘t know.  Just if you read the papers even a—this is where my argument is—if do any reading of the papers, you know the guy is Mitt.

TUCKER:  She was clueless, but absolutely confident. 

I love the fact that this woman is so confident in her ignorance -- 

MATTHEWS:  Oh, yes. 

TUCKER:  -- insisting, arguing with her staff.  And, no, she didn‘t know anything about the national political scene. 


How about this one, where she gets picked by John McCain to be on the ticket?  What he didn‘t know was she was out there rooting for Huck.  Huckabee—Huckabee is my good friend. 


CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  But here‘s my favorite one.  “I hate this damn job.”  This is what she said when she wrote on—an e-mail when she‘s governor.

Now, she‘s talking about or somebody‘s talking about her running for president. 

CORN:  Yes.  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  I would guess that being president of the United States in these times is about, what, 30 times, 100 times as tough as being governor of Alaska?

CORN:  One thousand, yes.


MATTHEWS:  I mean, if you hate that kind of work, which is worrying about things, and some of it diddly, but some of it really, really important, would she want this other job? 

CORN:  Well, listen, when she—

MATTHEWS:  Or just be a commentator?

CORN:  When she left the job of Alaskan governor, she said—one reason she said she was leaving was, she couldn‘t take the bad media.  It was just too much.  Now—

MATTHEWS:  In Alaska. 

CORN:  In Alaska.

MATTHEWS:  Been to New York lately?


CORN:  What are you going to do in the White House when the media comes after you?  Just do FOX News, which she talks about in these e-mails as well?  She doesn‘t seem to have—


MATTHEWS:  Wait until she gets a load of us.


MATTHEWS:  Anyway, the—the idea that that was too taxing a job for her, being governor. 

CORN:  Yes. 

MATTHEWS:  But here‘s the one that—I love this one that she was doing.  Here‘s the one.  She refers to Newt Gingrich, not that I‘m going to carry any water for that character—she refers to him, “That good old rich white guy.”  That‘s her statement about that.

TUCKER:  I loved that.  That was my favorite thing. 

Here‘s a woman, busy, making as much money—


MATTHEWS:  Well, she‘s white, too, though.  But why would she call a guy a white guy? 

TUCKER:  Well, you know, they‘re both white. 


MATTHEWS:  I mean, it just seems like an odd thing to single out. 


MATTHEWS:  You know?  It‘s not like we have got a tribal war going here or something, you know?

TUCKER:  And—and I‘m not going to defend Newt either, but, you know, the fact—


TUCKER:  -- that she—she sees enemies everywhere.  Remember Richard Nixon‘s enemy‘s list?

MATTHEWS:  Yes, put together by professionals.  Well, Pat -- 


MATTHEWS:  Let‘s take a look at this other one here.  And this is kind of fun.  It‘s obviously candy tonight.  Here she is, she talks about Katie Couric.  A year after Katie Couric interview—of course, it was the one that was the big downer for her, Palin still holding a grudge against Katie Couric.  I mean, how can you hate Katie Couric?

Here it is, quote, “She sucked in ratings before she stumbled upon her little gig mocking me.  She did almost lose her job before that V.P.  interview.”  That V.P. interview—she makes it sound like there‘s some other person.  It was interviewing a person who couldn‘t name a single thing that ever read.

CORN:  Well, this just shows that in Sarah Palin‘s cosmos, the center of that universe is Sarah Palin.


CORN:  All that mattered about Katie Couric is her interview with Sarah Palin.  And, you know, that‘s what saved Katie Couric‘s job.  I don‘t quite think so.  But that‘s how she views the world, these enemies as you said, and with her in the middle with everything that—

MATTHEWS:  That was a real curveball question, wasn‘t it?

CORN:  What do you read?

MATTHEWS:  What do you read—what a sneak.


CORN:  Liberal media elite establishment type of question.

MATTHEWS:  People have been asking that question of newcomer politicians since I remember, and the purpose of it was it‘s not to trick them, because—

TUCKER:  It‘s a softball.

MATTHEWS:  It was to say to find out where their head the coming from, what do you read every day to get your head around.

TUCKER:  It‘s the softball question.


CORN:  Well, it should be a softball question.  It‘s not always.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  You know, I generally don‘t like rats, people that rat out their bosses.  Generally, I don‘t.  I worked at number of politicians.  I observe the rule that you have a confidential relationship with him while you work for them.  So, defend this guy.

CORN:  Defend this guy?


MATTHEWS:  Is it by your likes—you‘ve always be a journalist. 

You‘ve never on the inside.  It‘s easy for you, right?

CORN:  Well, I‘m for more information.

MATTHEWS:  You‘re for more rats.

CORN:  In fact, you know, I‘m working with MSNBC.com with an open request to the state of Alaska for all Sarah Palin‘s e-mails.  I‘m trying to do this for a few years.

MATTHEWS:  Have you got a FOIA on that?

CORN:  We have FOIA.  And it‘s supposed to come out in the spring.

Now, the interesting thing is, he says he has 60,000 e-mails back and forth with Sarah Palin.  The state of Alaska tells us there are 26,000 pages that they‘re reviewing for us.  So, I don‘t know.  There seems to be discrepancy here.  But I‘m looking—

MATTHEWS:  You mean they have more?

CORN:  Well, they have less than what he has.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I know.  And, by the way, what is he‘s—just to get this straight as journalist, this stuff he‘s offering up, his manuscript for the true Sarah Palin, do we know of—they keep saying in the news stories I read according to him, according to him.


TUCKER:  We don‘t know for sure.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s only on the manuscript.

TUCKER:  That they are emails from Sarah Palin.

MATTHEWS:  Now, the wrinkle in this is the competition between this guy, this character, and the great Joe McGinniss, who‘s up there living next door.  And I cannot wait to get him on the show.  Now, he apparently leaked this manuscript.  So, it would screw the chance of this getting any sale.  His book will get all the sales.

CORN:  That seems to be what might have happened.

MATTHEWS:  I‘m for him.  I‘m for rooting for this guy.  I want to hear what Joe McGinniss—


CORN:  This is what I like Frank Bailey to do.  If you want to do a public service, Frank, you should put all 60,000 e-mails on that little thing called the Internet and let‘s all look at them and see if what you say is true.  It‘s a way to prove the veracity—

MATTHEWS:  When the book comes out.  He‘s got to sell the book.

CORN:  Well, maybe, if he can sell the book at this point.  I have a copyright here.

MATTHEWS:  It‘s Sarah Palin story.  I don‘t think she‘s running now, do you?


MATTHEWS:  Do you think she‘s running?  I don‘t think (INAUDIBLE) going to sell.


MATTHEWS:  Do you think she‘s running?

CORN:  I thought she wouldn‘t, but then I—but every time I read about her, she seems so self-centered that I don‘t know how she could pass up this opportunity.

MATTHEWS:  Is she‘s like Moammar Gadhafi, she just doesn‘t know the world around her?

CORN:  That‘s some comparison.

MATTHEWS:  If she shows with an umbrella, and start saying, I‘m here, I‘m not there.

Anyway, thank you.  I thought—well, she‘s not—I don‘t think she‘s as bad as him.


MATTHEWS:  I‘m not going to go that far.

Anyway, thank you, Cynthia Tucker.  Thank you, David Corn.  We‘re going to give her a break this week.

Up next: Texas is on its way to allowing concealed handguns.  You know you have problems with your kids on campus, you want to give them a gun?  This guy does.  We‘re going to talk to a state senator pushing the bill that college carry guns on campus no matter what the university says, and then we‘re going to have a survivor of the Virginia tech shooting to talk about the other point of view on this, about gun control.

This is HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  Well, this cuts close.  A never before seen home movie of President John F. Kennedy has surfaced.  It shows scenes from a gala event in Houston, Texas, the night before he was assassinated.  It looks like a million bucks.

The event was for the League of United Latin American Citizens at the Reich Hotel in Houston.  You see the president there along with the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as dozens of supporters.  Later in the movie, the president addresses the crowd as does the first lady.

The next day would be in Dallas where, of course, President Kennedy was shot and killed by Lee Harvey Oswald.

That same home movie was made by a San Antonio man who donated it to what‘s called the Sixth Floor Museum which collects artifacts from Kennedy‘s fateful Texas trip back in 1963.  We‘ll never forget that day.

We‘ll be right back.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re back.

Would having more guns on college campuses make them safer places to take—to study?  A long list of lawmakers down in Texas say the answer is yes.  And with the big Republican majority in the state capitol, it looks like it might just happen.

Republican State Senator Jeff Wentworth is the sponsor of a bill that would allow people with concealed handgun licenses to take handguns into college dorms and to other buildings, in the classrooms.

Colin Goddard, of course, is with Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.  He‘s a survivor, by the way, of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.  He was shot four times, in fact, in that horrible incident.  He‘s featured a new documentary about the tragedy at Virginia Tech called “Living for 22.”

Senator, thank you for joining us.  Just make your case why do you think students—why colleges should be basically required to allow students to have concealed weapon carry with licenses?

STATE SEN. JEFF WENTWORTH ®, TEXAS:  Well, in the first place, Chris, I‘d like to change the characterization.  It‘s not college kids carrying concealed weapons on campus.  In Texas, the law requires you to be at least 21 years of age to have a license.  So, if you‘re a traditional freshman, sophomore, junior, you‘re 17, 18, 19, 20 years old, so you‘re not eligible for a concealed carry license.


WENTWORTH:  It‘s mainly members of the faculty, staff, graduate students and a few seniors.  And it‘s purely for self defense—

MATTHEWS:  Well, most seniors turn—most—I was the youngest kid in my class and I was 21 in my senior year.

WENTWORTH:  Me, too.  I was 21 in my senior years.  So, but we‘re not talking about freshmen, sophomores and juniors, though.


MATTHEWS:  We‘re talking about seniors carrying guns on campus.  And my question to you is: tell me how that makes it safer for those students, or for anybody?

WENTWORTH:  Well, if I‘m—if I‘m in a class and a deranged madman comes on campus in Texas, as he did at Virginia Tech, and starts shooting, and everybody is unarmed and defenseless and vulnerable, we‘re all dead.


WENTWORTH:  If somebody in that class has a license and has been through a significant period—I mean, in order to get a license in Texas, you have to go through a 10-hour class, you have to pass a test, you have to go on a shooting range and pass, you pass a criminal background check, you give up your fingerprints, photographs, pay a not insignificant fee of over $100.


WENTWORTH:  It takes several weeks.  It‘s not something you just go down and plank down a $10 bill and get card for.

MATTHEWS:  You know, back in the old days, we all watched you—and I watched television, probably the same age, we watched old movies and we know what it was like in the old west.  They apparently put their guns at the city limits.  They couldn‘t carry them into saloons with them, and places like that.

Do you think it‘s OK for a 21-year-old kid, or 22-year-old grad student to be walking into a campus bar or something, and when you got alcohol involved, there are guys and girls together with the usual kind of competition that goes on there, social competition, with booze, and guns?  Do you think that‘s a healthy combination?

WENTWORTH:  Well, that hypothetical you gave doesn‘t happen—

MATTHEWS:  It‘s not hypothetical at all, sir.  You can walk into a bar with a gun under your law.

WENTWORTH:  No, you cannot.  That‘s a misrepresentation of a fact. 

You cannot go in Texas legally with a concealed carry license with a gun.  Now, people do it illegally all the time, but this bill would not allow that.

MATTHEWS:  No, but a campus—but you said campuses would be allowed to have kids carrying guns.  What about a bar on campus?

WENTWORTH:  We don‘t have bars on campus in Texas.

MATTHEWS:  You don‘t?

WENTWORTH:  It‘s against—it‘s against the law in Texas.  That‘s exactly right?


WENTWORTH:  Yes, sir, no alcohol allowed—

MATTHEWS:  You can‘t have a—on a private college campuses, you can‘t have a bar?

WENTWORTH:  Now you flipped it.  We‘re talking about public—

MATTHEWS:  No, I didn‘t flip it.

WENTWORTH:  We‘re talking about public universities.  We‘re not talking about private universities.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  Where I went to college, and a lot of which colleges I know, they have campus bar.  They have them right on campuses.

WENTWORTH:  They don‘t in Texas.  They don‘t in Texas.  We‘re talking about Texas.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  So, but you would bring them—you would let them play—how about kids that want to play football?  Would they be allowed to carry during a game or what?  Not during the game.

WENTWORTH:  No, actually, the law does not allow—and currently this law would not change it, for athletic contests, they‘re not permitted.

MATTHEWS:  OK.  But you would be allowed to take it to the contest or not?


MATTHEWS:  No.  So, you can‘t take it to a contest, you can‘t take it to a—any kind of bar scene or anything like that?  But you can walk around in campus.

WENTWORTH:  That‘s right.

MATTHEWS:  OK, now we‘ve got this straight.

Let‘s go to Colin with the other point of view.  What is your view about this, guns on campus?

COLIN GODDARD, VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING SURVIVOR:  Right.  What the senator fails to mention also—in Texas public schools, there are hospitals, there are daycare centers.  What about a judicial referral?  What about a tenure hearing?  These are all places that you‘re allowed to bring a gun.

You know, unfortunately, people who support this idea have a very narrow focus on the problem.  It‘s multidimensional.  They look at it as, hey, someone‘s about to shoot you, do you want a gun or not?  When you look at it like that, you miss the ideas and concepts of the fact that 93 percent of student violence victimization happens off campus, concealed carry is already allowed.  You miss the fact that police officers will no longer be able to respond effectively.

The cops that pulled me out of Norris Hall said that the first man they would have saw with a gun, they would have shot them.  And they need to be able to respond that way.  This would pull—it would change the dynamic.  And also, the senator needs to know that there‘s currently a lawsuit that was filed in Lubbock that would dropped the minimum age of a concealed carry licensee in Texas from 21 to 18.

MATTHEWS:  Senator, your response?

WENTWORTH:  Well, there‘s no bill that I know of that‘s dropping the age and I would object to that and oppose it.  I think 21 is the correct age.

As for law enforcement, law enforcement when they arrive on a scene like he‘s describing, they‘re instructed in their training before they‘re certified as peace officers, when they show up and they‘re not sure what‘s going on, they say everybody put their guns down, everybody put their I guns down.  The good guys that are law abiding will.  The only ones that won‘t are these mentally deranged people that are the lawbreakers in the first place.


Do you think it‘s going to be weird for a student to get his grades from a professor while he‘s armed, Senator?

WENTWORTH:  Well, they‘re posted usually on a bulletin board in the hall.  I mean, you don‘t walk to your professor—

MATTHEWS:  Well, an accident meeting between—it just seems odd if I were a professor and I had a student who was armed when we‘re having our tutorial.  We‘re talking about the grades or anything, it just seems odd.  You‘re looking into a classroom and you‘re seeing men and women with guns in the classroom.  Doesn‘t that seem odd to you?

WENTWORTH:  No, you‘re not.  In Texas, you cannot display your weapon.

MATTHEWS:  Doesn‘t it seem that a student comes to study philosophy, theology, English, whatever, and he‘s armed?  Doesn‘t that seem odd to you?

WENTWORTH:  Chris, right now in Texas, if you go shopping at a grocery store, a drugstore, go to a movie theater or a shopping mall, there are kids—you call them kids, 21 or 22, they‘re walking around with concealed carry weapons legally.

MATTHEWS:  Yes, I don‘t know.  It‘s a strange world you‘re getting us into, Senator.  Maybe it‘s cultural.  Maybe it‘s cowboys and Indians.  I live in a city.  I think it‘s strange.

Anyway, thank you, State Senator.  I appreciate the way you have carried yourself, you made your points well tonight, Senator.

WENTWORTH:  Thank you.

MATTHEWS:  Senator Jeff Wentworth of Texas, thank you.

And, Colin Goddard, this is a fight that‘s going on.  I think it‘s—

I know where I stand.

When we return, “Let Me Finish” with some rules for Americans when it comes to overseas rebellions and which side we should be on.

You‘re watching HARDBALL, only on MSNBC.


MATTHEWS:  “Let Me Finish” tonight with some handy American rules for dealing with overseas revolution.

Rule one: always side with nationalism—always, always back the people fighting against oppression by another country.  In 1954, we got on the wrong side of nationalism in Indochina.  That led to the Vietnam War.

However, in 1957, Senator Jack Kennedy spoke out in behalf of the Algerians fighting the French.  It was a daring move that singled him out and our country out on the right side.  In the 1960s, Kennedy again expressed his friendship with African countries recently free from colonialism.

In the 1980s, the United States rooted for the liberation of countries in Eastern Europe, from Soviet domination.  That was a good move.

Rule two: always take the side of expanded popular rule.  We backed Batista‘s dictatorial rule in Cuba and paid for it when Fidel Castro espoused his loyalty to the Soviet Union.  We backed the shah in Iran and pay for that when the Iranian revolution came along in ‘79, we certainly paid for that one.

This month, we rooted for the people in Tahrir Square in Egypt, and that would hold us in good stead as the new government emerges.  So, there is a way to do it, back the people, oppose colonialism, support popular rule.

That‘s HARDBALL for now.  Thanks for being with us.

More politics ahead with Cenk Uygur.




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