'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show
Guests: Jonathan Capehart, Michael Isikoff, Jared Bernstein, Michael Bloomberg
LAWERNCE O‘DONNELL, HOST: Sarah Palin arrived in Iowa today, only to discover that Michele Bachmann had already left, taking the Republican spotlight with her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Professional campaigner, Sarah Palin --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cinematic love story.
UNIDENIFIED MALE: Sarah Palin pulling into Iowa. The center of the political universe, Sarah Palin is walking the red carpet there.
O‘DONNELL (voice-over): Sarah Palin wants her spotlight back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Covering politics, we usually don‘t get to go to movie premieres.
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: Sarah Palin will attend the premiere of “The Undefeated.”
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Curious title for a work of supposed nonfiction.
MITCHELL: Cinematic valentine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought that she lost in 2008?
O‘DONNELL: Michele Bachmann goes to New Hampshire for more interviews, and more gaffes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has a propensity, doesn‘t she, to make some rather false statements.
REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, he tirelessly worked throughout his life to eradicate slavery.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wasn‘t one of the Founding Fathers.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, “HARDBALL” HOST: Excuse me, Congresswoman. It was the slaves that were working tirelessly.
DAVID LETTERMAN, TV HOST: She said I‘m going to run my campaign in the same spirit as John Wayne.
BACHMANN: Another American born in Waterloo, Iowa, was John Wayne.
LETTERMAN: People named John Wayne from Waterloo, and up comes John Wayne Gacy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She has not passed a major bill since coming to Congress.
O‘DONNELL: Michele Bachmann is also making the most powerful man in Republican politics very happy.
STEPHEN COLBERT, TV HOST: Is there any time in any circumstance under which raising taxes would be the right thing to do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
BACHMANN: I would repeal Obamacare, cutting back on federal spending.
I would also bring down the federal corporate tax rate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can‘t cut your way to prosperity.
MITCHELL: It is a giant game of chicken.
O‘DONNELL: And what convinced those New York Republican senators to vote for marriage equality?
MATTHEWS: In 2004, Republicans successfully used gay marriage as a wedge issue.
O‘DONNELL: I‘ll ask New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The city estimates the new law will bring more than $180 million to the state in the next three years.
JON STEWART, TV HOST: Yes, that‘s it.
O‘DONNELL: Good evening from New York.
Sarah Palin made the mistake of going to Iowa today to measure her celebrity against Michele Bachmann in the same week that the Bachmann phenomenon has floated to the top of the Republican polling in Iowa. And the Palin phenomenon was deemed unworthy of even being included in Iowa polls.
Palin arrived in Pella, Iowa, just a couple hours ago for the premiere of the absurdly titled so-called documentary “The Undefeated”—a pro Palin account of her half term as governor of Alaska.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first 90 days of Governor Palin‘s administration were insane. We worked like dogs. Seven days a week, fifteen hour days.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unlike many states, the governor in the state of Alaska is a CEO for the state. When the Constitution was written, the Founders decided that we needed a CEO. It‘s one person that would be responsible.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All decisions must go through this CEO.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If things were to go wrong in the state, they wanted the ability for the people to know, where does the blame lay?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was the CEO of 25,000 employees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of all of the 50 governors in the United States, she was sitting at the desk as one of the most powerful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: A podium has been set up outside the venue where the Palin documentary is screening. We believe it has just ended. We are not sure whether Sarah Palin will go to that microphone. If she does, we will try to bring that to you.
This morning on “FOX and Friends,” Sarah Palin‘s daughter Bristol told Brian Kilmeade about what viewers of this program already know, about Sarah Palin‘s decision on running for president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS: Do you get the sense that your mom has not made up her mind yet, or do you think she knows and hasn‘t told us?
BRISTOL PALIN, SARAH PALIN‘S DAUGHTER: You know, she definitely knows. We have talked about it before. But some things just need to stay in the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Yes, Brian, she knows, and hasn‘t told us. Regular viewers of this program know that I have repeatedly assured America that Sarah Palin is the most recent losing vice presidential candidate who will never be president, and she knows she will never be president, which is why she will never run for president. Something she clearly decided, even before resigning her governorship.
Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC contributor and editorial writer for “The Washington Post.”
Thanks for joining me tonight, Jonathan.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Republican politics has had a seismic shift, even for those who were faked out by the Palin phenomena, believing that she might run for president. Michele Bachmann has clearly stepped in, is running for president.
The Palin star after tonight, after her documentary showing in Iowa, seems to be fading. Even to the point where pundits recognize it.
CAPEHART: Well, finally. Look, Michele Bachmann started stealing Sarah Palin‘s star and her spotlight starting a few months ago, and definitely when she walked on that stage at the New Hampshire debate earlier this month.
And we have to start looking at Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin differently. Michele Bachmann is a politician. She is running for president of the United States. Sarah Palin is a celebrity.
And, come on, Lawrence, let‘s look at it this way. Sarah Palin is in Iowa for the first time this year for a movie, about her. This is typical celebrity fashion. And meanwhile, Michele Bachmann whips into the state yesterday, says, “I‘m running for president,” and by this morning, she was out of there in New Hampshire. And tonight, apparently, she is in South Carolina.
She is not messing around. She is really running for president.
O‘DONNELL: And we have dueling documentaries now in the works. Nick Broomfield, a real documentarian, is working on another documentary about Sarah Palin. Let‘s take a look at his work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BITNEY, SARAH‘S LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR: It was frustrating at times to set up a meeting with legislative leadership to talk about a piece of legislation or a bill or an issue or something that needed to be worked out, and, you know, the whole time she would be doing this. You know? Just very unengaged in the conversation. And I would have to go around afterwards and, oh, there, there. You know, she was really listening. And, well, it sure didn‘t seem like she was.
But she wasn‘t. She wasn‘t listening.
LYDA GREEN, SENATE PRESIDENT: I never felt that Sarah was ever connected to the business in the building.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: There you have her legislative director telling us all she was doing was working the crackberry when she was supposed to be --
CAPEHART: Like everyone does.
O‘DONNELL: Yes, but the—Palin world has been very much about controlling the image, controlling the output. Now, inside Palin world has cracked. We have a book from one of her former aides that kind of takes her apart. Now, we have this in the works, and coming.
It seems to me that it really—reality has struck for Palin, and we are now on to the Bachmann campaign for president.
CAPEHART: Right. Look, if anyone had been paying attention for the
last year, they would not be surprised by the movies, by the books, and now
I mean, just looking at the poll numbers. Pollster.com, they have been averaging all of the polls on lots of politicians, but particularly Sarah Palin.
And since October 2008, the favorability and unfavorability gap has been enormous for Sarah Palin. She has a 57.9 unfavorable rating. And it‘s been yawning ever since October 2008.
Anyone paying attention to that ought to know that there was no way she could credibly run for president. That‘s why she is taking the star route.
O‘DONNELL: Jonathan, I want you to take a quick look at what—how George Stephanopoulos handled Michele Bachmann this morning. Very gracefully did his job, and Michele Bachmann falls apart. Let‘s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: You said that the founding fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery.
BACHMANN: Well, if you look at one of our Founding Fathers, John Quincy Adams, that‘s absolutely true. He was a very young boy when he was with his father, serving essentially as his father‘s secretary. He tirelessly worked throughout his life to make sure that we did, in fact, one day eradicate slavery from our nation and so graceful for that work.
STEPHANOPOULOS: He wasn‘t one of the Founding Fathers. He was a president, he was a secretary of state, a member of Congress. You‘re right, he did work to end slavery decades later. But—so you‘re standing by this comment that the Founding Fathers worked tirelessly to end slavery?
BACHMANN: Well, John Quincy Adams most certainly was a part of the revolutionary war era. He was a young boy, but he was actively involved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Jonathan, it seems Michele Bachmann is presenting an intelligence test for Republican voters. Is there any chance that enough of them can fail that test, that she could become the nominee?
CAPEHART: You know what? We‘re about to find out. But, you know, there‘s something very interesting there, in that in her response, one, she‘s relentlessly on message, even when presented with the facts and the truth and the fact she hadn‘t been saying anything that was actually true, she stayed on message, and she plowed forward.
And then there‘s a second thing she does, and has been doing that Sarah Palin has never done, which makes Michele Bachmann an incredible, incredible candidate for the Republican nomination for president. She goes to the people. She gives interviews to people. She knows will hold her accountable and people who might like her.
She goes on “Meet the Press,” “Face the Nation,” she goes before Stephanopoulos. She goes to Matt Lauer. She goes outside of Facebook, Twitter, to, you know, face people who probably don‘t like her.
O‘DONNELL: MSNBC analyst Jonathan Capehart, thank you for joining me this evening.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: And there is breaking news now involving Michele Bachmann. Joining me now is NBC News national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff.
Michael, thanks for joining me. Tell us what you have been looking into today.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it turns out that the extent to which Michele Bachmann and her family has benefited from government aid is a lot more than she has previously acknowledged and has been previously reported. In particular, I got some figures today from the Minnesota Department of Human Services showing that Bachmann and associates, which is the counseling clinic run by Michele Bachmann‘s husband has received over $137,000 in Medicaid funds, federal and state funds, for the treatment of low-income employees, over the last since 2005.
Now, this is particularly interesting, because Bachmann, as you know, has been a fierce critic of socialized medicine, of Obamacare, she wants to roll it back. And in particular, has denounced expansions of Medicaid, describing it as equivalent to expanding the welfare roles.
So, this is on top of, by the way, previously reported about $24,000 grant that Bachmann and associates had gotten in state and federal funds for the training of employees. So, you put it all together, it‘s about $161,000 in government aid to Bachmann and associates, or government funding to Bachmann and associates.
That does raise some questions about some of—that are bound to raise questions about some of Bachmann‘s assertions about cutting back on government programs.
O‘DONNELL: Michael, I want you to listen to what she has told Chris Wallace about that money going to the clinic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: This was a one-time training money that came in from the federal government, and it certainly diplomat help our clinic. It was something that was additional training to help employees.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Can you fact-check that for us, Michael?
ISIKOFF: Yes, I did. Well, two things. First of all, she is referring to that grant I spoke about before, and I talked to the state Department of Human Services today about the idea that the money went directly to the employees, not to the clinic.
They said not true. The money—the contract was with the clinic, the money went to the clinic. How the clinic used the money, they couldn‘t say. But as far as they were concerned, the money went to the clinic.
And the point is, she was talking about that as a one-time payment. That was for that specific contract. These Medicaid payments have been going on every year since 2005, and they have continued into this year. So, it‘s been a continuing relationship in Medicaid funding for Bachmann and associates.
O‘DONNELL: And Medicaid payments to clinics are the center of Medicaid fraud in this country. When Medicaid fraud is being investigated, it‘s not found in big ways in the big hospitals that treat masses of Medicaid patients. It‘s in these clinics that do, who-knows-what, that are very, very hard to police and get out there and find out exactly what they‘re doing with that money.
Is Michele Bachmann going to have to face more questions going forward about this, Michael?
ISIKOFF: Well, first of all, to be fair, there‘s no allegations here of fraud on the part of Bachmann and associates. It‘s more, you know, are there questions of contradictions between public comments. And she was—when Governor Mark Dayton in Minnesota had signed an executive order earlier this year to expand Medicaid funding to about 95,000 Minnesota residents, Michele Bachmann flew back home and stood with GOP legislators to denounce that move, denounce the Medicaid program, said she was expanding the welfare rolls, and needless to say, made no mention of the fact that her husband‘s clinic was benefiting from this very program.
O‘DONNELL: NBC News national investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff—thanks for joining me tonight, Michael.
ISIKOFF: Thank you, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Coming up, more on Michele Bachmann‘s idea about the economy, including her plan to increase employment by getting rid of the minimum wage.
And Texas Governor Rick Perry is about to make Texas the largest state to defund Planned Parenthood.
O‘DONNELL: Michele Bachmann gets a glowing review from the anti tax wing of the Republican Party, which is to say the entire Republican Party.
And now, gun rights supporters are actually supporting al Qaeda‘s new plan to buy weapons at American gun shows. The politician brave enough to lead the charge against the NRA insanity joins me, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
O‘DONNELL: Michele Bachmann has zero chance of winning the presidency, but her candidacy reveals a lot about the current state of the Republican Party. Consider Bachmann‘s response on the “Today” show when asked what she would do to reduce the unemployment rate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: Probably the first thing that I would do is I would repeal Obamacare. That‘s the worst regulation that‘s come forward. I would be cutting back on federal spending. I would also bring down the federal corporate tax rate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Never mind that the health care bill that President Obama signed into law will actually create jobs in the health care sector, the Bachmann plan for increasing employment is to repeal a bill that helps create employment.
On “Good Morning America,” George Stephanopoulos deeply pierced Bachmann speak to clarify her opposition to the minimum wage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BACHMANN: I think that we need to look at all regulations, whatever ones are inhibiting job growth. That‘s what we need --
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the minimum wage is one of them?
BACHMANN: All regulations, George. I think every department—we have just too much expansion of government. And so, what we need to do is tamp that down so that the American people can keep more of what they make.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Those incoherent positions won Bachmann a glowing review today from the ultra conservative Club for Growth, a powerful Republican organization founded by Steven Moore, an editorial board member of “The Wall Street Journal.”
The group spent more than $7 million to help Republican candidates in 2010. The Club for Growth has issued white papers on the Republican presidential candidates, reviewing their economic records. The reviews for former governors, Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty and John Huntsman, were mixed.
“Finding a solution seems to be Romney‘s goal, even if it means more government intrusion.”
“A President Pawlenty would be susceptible to adopting pragmatic policies that grow government.”
“Huntsman chooses policy positions based on what the so-called intelligentsia believes.”
But Michele Bachmann, a candidate who has never actually participated in government in any meaningful way, never actually introduced a bill that has become a law, received unequivocal praise. “With very few exceptions, Congresswoman Bachmann has supported pro-growth policies throughout her career. After reviewing her record, we are confident that Congresswoman Bachmann would be a pro-growth president.”
Joining me now is Jared Bernstein, the former chief economist to Vice President Biden. He is currently senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and an MSNBC contributor.
Jared, unfortunately, I don‘t think the Club for Growth is ever going to get to see that pro-growth president Bachmann. She has been considered a fringe candidate up until her showing in the Iowa caucus polls. Now, she‘s a top tier candidate, for a while, anyway.
Is there anything that she has said in her economic pronouncements that could in any way create jobs or improve our economic position from where it is today?
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Nothing I‘ve heard. And, by the way, the Club for Growth basically wrote the economic road map that got this economy so deeply into the ditch that we‘re still climbing out of. I mean, that‘s trickle-down supply side ground zero for that kind of policy.
I mean, even some of the talking points I just heard kind of collided with each other in a way that didn‘t make logical sense. The idea if you eliminate the minimum wage, people keep more of what they earn. No, low-wage workers earn the minimum wage. If you eliminate it, they earn less.
So, it‘s just—just no there there, Lawrence. I wish I could give you some analysis.
I mean, on the debt ceiling, I‘ve heard stuff that goes from illogical to the scary. So, there you hear kind of a disbelief of the August 2nd deadline.
But keep in mind that Michele Bachmann, along with all of the other House Republicans, has already implicitly voted to increase the debt ceiling. When you vote for the Ryan budget, the Ryan budget implies a multitrillion dollar increase in the debt ceiling. You can‘t have that budget unless you increase the debt ceiling.
So, they have already voted for that. But then somehow it doesn‘t quite match up.
O‘DONNELL: And, Jared, it would require repeated increases in the debt ceiling over time.
BERNSTEIN: About $6 trillion. Right now we‘re talking about an increase in the debt ceiling of a couple trillion. That would require, I believe, $5.8 trillion increase in the debt ceiling over the next decade.
O‘DONNELL: Now, Michele Bachmann has said if we do hit the debt limit on August 2nd that that would be no problem because the federal government could just decide to pay its debts. That is to say, pay its bondholders.
And then, you know, salaries to soldiers, things like that. You could figure that out later.
BERNSTEIN: So, here‘s the problem with that. First of all, you‘re exactly right. If you start doing that ordering, then, yes, the military, V.A. hospital, Social Security, health benefits for seniors. So once you start robbing Peter to pay Paul, you‘re immediately in the soup.
But here‘s the thing that worries me more. The bond markets basically assume that we‘re going to get our act together, and raise the debt ceiling, because they can‘t imagine that we would actually entertain default. The more you hear people like Michele Bachmann—I actually understand that Congressman Boehner alluded to this today—the more you suggest the august deadline is phony and maybe it‘s OK if we breach it, the more I worry that bond rates are beginning to go up. And for every half percentage point they go up, that‘s $50 billion more in debt service.
So, I know these folks don‘t really care about deficits and debt, but in the real world, that‘s real money.
O‘DONNELL: Jared, it seems to me that the bond market hasn‘t adjusted to the notion of the possibility of the debt ceiling not being raised.
O‘DONNELL: Because they actually don‘t know how. I mean, if we went to them today and said, “OK, we know, it‘s not going to be raised”—I don‘t think they would know how to do a calculation about how to absorb that.
BERNSTEIN: Well, I mean, look, these markets are kind of herd-like. And as Geithner has suggested, it doesn‘t take a ton to spook a market that‘s already looking over its shoulder at this.
But as I‘ve said, I‘ve talked to bond investors about everyone I meet. I say, explain why the yield on the 10-year Treasury bill is below 3 percent, and they always say, we figure you guys aren‘t really crazy. But when I start hearing crazy talk, I‘ve got to get nervous.
O‘DONNELL: Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at Center on Budget an Policy Priorities, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
O‘DONNELL: Still to come, my exclusive interview with Michael Bloomberg on his role in getting gay marriage equality passed in New York state, and how he is trying to prevent al Qaeda from getting American weapons.
O‘DONNELL: President Obama will hold a news conference tomorrow morning at 11:30 a.m., in the East Room of the White House. Press Secretary Jay Carney made the announcement tonight on Twitter. Live coverage on MSNBC, and analysis here tomorrow night.
Still ahead, an American from Oregon is helping al Qaeda plot attacks inside the United States using gun show loopholes that Republicans insist on protecting. New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is in the spotlight.
And another attack against Planned Parenthood in Texas, where the governor is still toying with running for president.
O‘DONNELL: This al Qaeda spokesman, Adam Yahia Gadahn, was born Adam Pearlman in Oregon 32 years ago. He grew up in California, where he was home schooled by his parents. In 1998, three years after adopting fundamentalist Islamic beliefs, Adam Yahia Gadahn moved to Pakistan, where he soon became an invaluable operative for Osama bin Laden.
In a message posted online this month, Gadahn urges terrorists in the United States to purchase weapons at gun shows, where they will not have to undergo a background check. That chilling al Qaeda video has now been incorporated into a national ad campaign by mayors against illegal guns, a bipartisan coalition of over 600 mayors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The latest al Qaeda plot instructs terrorists on how to buy guns in America.
ADAM GADAHN, AL QAEDA OPERATIVE: This is a golden opportunity. America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check.
So what are you waiting for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call your member of Congress. Tell them to close the loopholes that let terrorists and criminals buy guns.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: Joining me now, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Thanks for joining me tonight.
MAY. MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: Thanks for having me.
O‘DONNELL: When I saw the ad that you‘re running, I had to watch it again. I couldn‘t believe what I was watching. I thought it was a fake staged thing.
BLOOMBERG: This is a real terrorist. He‘s on the FBI‘s most wanted list for terrorism. We think he‘s in Pakistan. He‘s accused of helping al Qaeda. And he‘s literally saying to American terrorists or terrorists from around the world, go to America, buy guns, you can buy them without a background check, just go to a gun show.
You might not be able to fly if you‘re on the terrorist watch list, but you can buy a gun. And then go kill people.
And Congress lets this go on.
O‘DONNELL: Now, Mayors Against Illegal Guns seems to be up against a Congress in favor of illegal guns.
BLOOMBERG: Well, the Congress must believe that there is a constitutional amendment that says the right of terrorists to buy arms shall not be infringed. It‘s the only explanation.
It is so nonsensical. We say, you are a potential terrorist. We‘re not going to let you fly, but you‘re OK to buy a weapon. And why anybody thinks this is rational or reasonable or why it infringes on the average American‘s right to bear arms, it makes no sense whatsoever, Lawrence.
O‘DONNELL: Can you get a hearing on this in Washington now? Or are they just locked down in budget talks and telling you, no, no, we‘re too busy?
BLOOMBERG: I think right now—right now, the big debate is over the deficit ceiling—or over the debt ceiling. But this has been on the agenda for years. We keep going down. Mayors from around the country keep testifying. Mayors keep going to funerals and giving eulogies.
Our police officers are shot with illegal guns. Parents continue to cry. And bury their children. And this just goes on.
O‘DONNELL: When you run that ad, and the NRA watches that ad with al Qaeda saying to its operatives in the United States, what are you waiting for, go buy these guns, this is how easy it is, what does the NRA say to that?
BLOOMBERG: They won‘t say anything. They‘re not about to come out and say the rights of terrorists are more important than the rights of the rest of us to be safe on our streets, the rights for our police officers to be able to reduce the risks that they run every day when they put their lives on the line.
It is just the most irrational thing in the world. Just close the gun show loophole, so that everybody gets the same background check that 60 percent of the people when they buys their guns from gun stores do. And it works. It‘s not perfect, but it works.
And if you‘re on the terrorist watch list and you can‘t fly, make that another reason why you can‘t buy guns. Right now, federal law says if you‘re a minor, if you have psychiatric problems, you have a criminal record, you cannot buy a gun legally.
Just add to it, if you‘re on the terrorist watch list, you can‘t. And there are plenty of ways to get off the terrorist watch list if you‘re not a terrorist. But we have it for a reason. And it is just as bad to let a terrorist on an airplane as to give a terrorist a gun.
O‘DONNELL: My hopes are with you, because I have not seen a politician of your prominence and leadership position take on this issue before. So I think we‘ve got a new game going with Mayor Mike Bloomberg in it on this issue.
You have changed minds before. You were heavily involved in what we just saw happen in New York State, history changing for marriage equality in New York State, finally. You were in conversations with Republicans in the last months, trying to lead them to a position contrary to what they ran on, contrary to promises they made at other points in their political careers.
That‘s what this gun issue is going to take. How did you do it in the marriage equality?
BLOOMBERG: Because marriage equality is not contrary to the things that the Republican party says they stand for, family stability. They always say that marriage adds to the family stability. So that‘s fine.
Single-sex couples can adopt children. You want those children to grow up and be great citizens and have great parents. Letting them marry is one thing.
The other thing is the Republican principles are keep the government out of your personal life. If you want to marry somebody, it‘s not the government‘s business to tell you who.
And that‘s just, to me, one of the fundamental principles of America.
O‘DONNELL: “Huffington Post” reports that there were enticements made to Republicans to sway them, convincing them that there would be money—there would be campaign money that they could draw on that they would not otherwise be able to get. Not so much quid pro quos, necessarily.
They say “Mayor Michael Bloomberg was fond of telling on the fence lawmakers that a yes vote would give them access to”—
BLOOMBERG: I beg your pardon. We just talked about the NRA that threatens we‘ll take you out if you don‘t vote that way, or people saying, well, a particular party will not support me, or everybody will vote for me and they‘ll raise a lot of money against me.
Look, you should be supporting the people that run for government that you think are doing the right things. And that‘s not a bribe. That‘s just common sense. You want to—
O‘DONNELL: These are all Republicans who were being threatened by the Conservative Party, with two million dollars in spending. It seems to me perfectly reasonable for someone to speak up and say, hey, if they do that, here‘s what you have access to.
BLOOMBERG: I think that‘s clear, but it‘s also true that most people, and most parties, don‘t look at one issue. They look at the totality, Lawrence, of what you believe in.
And they can say, I don‘t agree with Lawrence O‘Donnell on this thing. But I agree with him on most things. And I agree with him on more things than I agree with his opponent.
If any—Ed Koch always used to say, if you agree with me 75, 80 percent of the time, it‘s great. If you agree with me 100 percent of the time, see a psychiatrist.
BLOOMBERG: And you‘re not—there is never a one-issue. And I think that voting your conscience is the right thing to do. You know, in the end, you have to get re-elected. That‘s the way you make a living and you want to do public service.
But in the end, you‘ve got to like what you see when you turn out the light.
O‘DONNELL: Your local paper, “the New York Post,” can‘t get enough of Anthony Weiner. They‘re giving him—he‘s being talked about in the “New York Post” today as having meddling in some way in who is going to be his successor.
You have made career transitions and job transitions in your life, including the very big one, going from the private sector into politics. Do you have any advice for Anthony Weiner? If you were his rabbi today, would you have career advice for him about where to go from here?
BLOOMBERG: No, other than he‘s got to deal with the hand that he has and look forward and not look back. I think the worst mistake is people sit there and they constantly remind themselves of problems in the past. That‘s not helpful.
Whatever you have looking forward is possible, whatever is in the past, you can‘t change. Just get on with your life.
O‘DONNELL: Mr. Mayor, this is your first time back on the show since the recent loss of your mother, Charlotte. You‘re lucky enough to have a mother for 69 years of your life. She made it to 102. Very sorry about that loss.
BLOOMBERG: Thank you.
O‘DONNELL: And what do you have to tell us about what it‘s like going forward without her now.
BLOOMBERG: Well, the funny thing, in the car yesterday going uptown, I wanted to reach to my cell phone and call, because I called her every day. And I just all of a sudden realized, that‘s—you know—but she was a wonderful woman.
She was very proud to be an American. She lived—she grew up in Jersey City, remembers gas lamps going out, electricity coming in. Remembers the first phone, the first automobile.
And before she died, she had a cell phone and a computer and flew and all that sort of stuff, in one lifetime.
She remembers—I said, what‘s the first thing—what do you remember about World War I? She remembers being allowed to go further away than ever before to buy flags for Armistice Day. Every single person in every family had to have a flag for Armistice Day. World War II, she was an adult. But World War I, she was a young girl.
O‘DONNELL: We should all be so lucky to have such memories. Mr.
Mayor, thank you very much.
BLOOMBERG: Thank you. And thank you for inquiring about my mother.
O‘DONNELL: Today, an 18-year-old girl who just graduated from high school taught United States senators how to do their jobs. That‘s in the Rewrite.
O‘DONNELL: Time for tonight‘s Rewrite. The Senate Judiciary Committee‘s Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security took a little step today—a little step—to Rewrite the political possibilities for the Dream Act. Dream meaning “Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act.”
The subcommittee conducted the Senate‘s very first hearing ever on the Dream Act. The bill would provide an eventual path to citizenship for accomplished young men and women who were brought to this country illegally by their parents when they were children. That path to citizenship could include a successful completion of their education or service in the military.
Conventional wisdom is that Republican politics will not allow the Dream Act to pass, even though it passed in the House in December with a slight majority. And in the Senate in December, it had the majority support of 55 senators, but was stopped on a cloture motion by just 41 senators, because 41 senators can stop anything in the Senate. The Dream Act is considered a hopeless crusade for now.
That‘s why it got the subcommittee treatment today. In the Senate, subcommittees don‘t handle the important issues. The full committees do. But the Obama administration‘s commitment to the issue was emphasized by sending two—two cabinet secretaries to testify.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: These individuals do not pose a risk to public safety. They do not pose a risk to national security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: And Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who said that beneficiary beneficiaries of the Dream Act could help fill millions of jobs in what the secretary calls the STEM fields. Yes, acronym creep is unrelenting in Washington. STEM in this usage means “Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN CORNYN ®, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Do you know for a fact that the young men and women here in this room who seek passage of this authority would, in fact, qualify for those three million jobs that are unmet right now?
ARNE DUNCAN, EDUCATION SECRETARY: I don‘t know all these young people intimately here. So I‘m here today. But I will tell you, there are many young people in this room and around the country, in your home state and mine, who when we talk about almost two million unfilled STEM jobs—and we know that‘s the future economic engine of our country—could many of the young people in this room and around the country help to fill those jobs and drive the economy? No question in my mind, absolutely.
I‘ve worked with many of them in the Chicago public schools, extraordinarily talented.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: The audience in the hearing room included many young people who would qualify for the Dream Act. They were not just from our southern border states. Senators from about as far away from that border as you can be had stories to tell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Since coming to office, I‘ve learned a lot about so many Minnesotans, so many students like yourselves. I learned about a student whose parents brought him to the United States, to the suburbs of the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, when he was eight years old, and who saves up all his money every year just to take one class at the University of Minnesota, because that‘s all he can afford.
I learned about a young woman who cleans bathrooms in a dental clinic in Apple Valley, in Dakota County, who wants to start her own design business. I learned about a young man who is student body president of his Minnesota college, and wants to become an educator for kids who are poor, like him.
Each of those students is just like you. Each of those students is so smart and so capable, and so good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: No senator, no cabinet member, had anything to say as important as 18-year-old Ola Kaso, who just graduated from high school and is on her way to college, even though she is not a legal resident of this country.
She arrived in the United States from Albania at age five, not speaking a word of English.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLA KASO, DREAM ACT SUPPORTER: I‘ve become proficient in the English language and I‘ve excelled in my studies. Since the third grade, I‘ve been placed in advanced programs, all of which I fully utilized.
I have taken every advanced placement course my high school has offered and I‘ve earned a 4.4 GPA doing so. I earned a 30 on my ACT, with English being my highest score.
In high school, I was a varsity athlete. I ran cross-country in the fall and I played tennis in the spring. I was treasurer of student council and I was treasurer of the National Honors Society.
Furthermore, I tutor students that are still struggling to become proficient in English. And I have received numerous scholarship offers and I have been accepted to several universities.
I commit countless hours to community service and charity events, because I feel that big change comes through little steps.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O‘DONNELL: “Big change comes through little steps.” Little steps.
The judiciary subcommittee took its first little step today.
O‘DONNELL: Today, Ohio‘s legislature passed the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country, known as the Heartbeat Bill. It outlaws abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
The bill is a direct challenge to Roe vs. Wade, which forbids states from banning abortions before the fetus is viable, which usually occurs around 22 to 24 weeks. The heartbeat is always detectable before that time.
In Kansas, a law that requires abortion clinics to meet 36 pages of new requirements to get a license takes effect on Friday. Health regulators announced today that so far all of the abortion clinics they have visited have failed to meet those new, highly specific requirements.
The new regulations requiring, for example, that procedure rooms be 150 square feet, and recovery areas be at least 80 square feet per patient, were sent to the providers on June 17th, only days before the inspections.
Two doctors who perform abortions in Kansas filed a federal lawsuit today to block those new regulations, calling them a sham.
And in Texas yesterday, the legislature approved a bill that would block Planned Parenthood from receiving state planning money, or from taking part in the Medicaid women‘s health program.
If signed, Texas would become the largest state to defund Planned Parenthood. Texas Governor Rick Perry also recently signed a bill that requires a woman to have a sonogram before having an abortion to, quote, “ensure she is fully informed before making such an impactful decision.”
Rejoining me now is editorial writer for the “Washington Post” Jonathan Capehart, appearing now in the role of Melissa Harris-Perry.
Jonathan, thank you very much. We had a link up to New Orleans with Melissa. She was going to join us for this segment. We lost that transmission from New Orleans. Thank you for hanging around.
CAPEHART: Big shoes to fill. I‘m going to try my best.
O‘DONNELL: I know you can do it. With these laws, Jonathan, direct confrontations with Roe vs. Wade, some of them, others fooling around the edges of it. We—it seems that courts will be the only refuge now, as these laws proceed. We just in Indiana a judge in Indiana ruled against that state‘s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood there.
It restored the right for Medicaid patients to seek care at Planned Parenthood. Are judges the hope? Judges and the courts the hope now?
CAPEHART: Well, right now, that would appear to be the case. Look, what‘s happening now is Republicans are, you know, in power in about 26 state houses. They‘re in power on Capitol Hill. This has been—ever since Roe v. Wade was decided, Republicans and conservatives, in particular, have been trying their best to chip away, if not completely take away a woman‘s right to choose.
We—what we saw in the 2010 election, if you recall, Lawrence, people kept talking about how the focus was—at least because of the Tea Party, was—the focus was on the economy and jobs and the direction—the financial direction of the country. Social issues were being pushed off to the side. They seemingly weren‘t important.
But now that Republicans have gained power in state houses across the country, gained power within the House of Representatives, the social issues are roaring back. And particularly on choice issues, as you just—you outlined very well in the opening. And as Melissa Perry would have outlined with even more detail, Republicans and conservatives, with backing in state houses and governorships, are driving really aggressively to end a woman‘s right to choose.
O‘DONNELL: And Jonathan, now, in addition to the tax pledge—anti-tax pledge that Republican candidates need to sign to advance on the—in the presidential primary, there‘s this abortion pledge that‘s being put in front of them to sign. Are we going to see abortion play a larger role in this Republican campaign than it did last time around?
CAPEHART: Oh, I think so. You saw Rick Santorum going after Governor Mitt Romney for not signing the pledge. This is going to be—definitely going to be an issue. But the problem that they‘re going to have is that, you know, it‘s great—it‘s fine for the primaries and it‘s fine for ginning up the bases to try to get the nomination.
But how do you reach out to independents and independent women and convince them that they should vote for you?
O‘DONNELL: The teleprompter says, MSNBC contributor Melissa Harris-Perry, thank you very much for joining us. Jonathan Capehart, thanks for sticking around and filling in. We had a bad feeling about that transmission from New Orleans tonight, and we didn‘t get it.
Thank you, Jonathan, very much.
CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.
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