'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Guests: Mark Thompson, Goldie Taylor, Sam Biddle; Krystal Ball
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: What was the big surprise when Mitt Romney
spoke to the NAACP today? He only got booed three times.
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: Mitt Romney dreams the impossible dream.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Mitt Romney went in search of something he
had not looked for before.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you want a president who
will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking
WAGNER: The African-American vote.
SMERCONISH: Mission impossible.
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: More than 90 percent of African-Americans
support the president.
ANDREW MITCHELL, NBC NEWS: A high-stakes appearance for Mitt Romney
today at the NAACP.
SMERCONISH: Mitt Romney and the NAACP.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was this weird and odd.
ROMANS: I do love that music. I have to tell you. I do love
listening to that organ music.
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: Romney just never connected to his
WAGNER: Things went smoothly until he decided to take on the
president`s health care plan.
ROMNEY: I`m going to eliminate every nonessential expensive program I
SMERCONISH: The crowd shouted him down with boos.
ROMNEY: That includes Obamacare, and I`m going to work to reform and
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is the worst
Republican in the country.
ANA MARIE COX: All of us saying that, you now, Rick Santorum was
right. Every time someone says something like that, a gay angel gets its
ROMNEY: If you want a president who will make things better in the
African-American community, you are looking at him. You take a look.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t!
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I want to give him
credit for stepping up into the arena, so to speak.
MITCHELL: There have been Republican candidates who have refused to
go to the NAACP.
ROMNEY: If you understood who I truly am in my part, we would vote
for me for president.
BASHIR: We don`t know what you believe, and that`s because you
repeatedly refuse to tell us.
O`DONNELL: The least self-aware presidential candidate in history
spoke to the NAACP convention today, where his performance fluctuated
between boring and weird.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I do not have a hidden agenda. And I submit to you this. If
you want a president who will make things better in the African-American
community, you are looking at him. You take a look.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Take a look. He managed to get booed only three times in
the 24-minute speech. And that was only because his handlers were not
smart enough to adjust the applause lines that always work with Republican
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: If our goal is jobs, we have to stop spending over $1
trillion more than we take in every year. And so --
ROMNEY: And so to do that, I`m going to eliminate every nonessential
expensive program I can find. That includes Obamacare, and I`m going to
work to reform and save --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: There he is, the worst reader of audience reaction in
political history. He actually told FOX News, he thought he was a big hit
with the NAACP.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: I spoke with a number of African-American leaders after the
event, and they said, you know, a lot of folks don`t want to say they`re
not going to be voting for Barack Obama, but they`re disappointed in his
lack of policies to improve our schools, disappointed in urban policy,
disappointed in the economy. 14.4 percent rate of unemployment among
African-Americans. So I expect to get African-American votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Mark Thompson, host of "Make It Plain" on
Sirius XM Radio. He was in the room today for the Romney speech. Toure, a
co-host of "THE CYCLE" on MSNBC, and the author of "Who`s Afraid of Post-
Blackness?" And Goldie Taylor, managing editor of the Goldie Taylor
Project and a contributor of thegrio.com, which is part of NBC News.
Mark Thompson, tell me what the reaction was in the room.
MARK THOMPSON, "MAKE IT PLAIN" HOST: Well, of course, everyone was
polite, and as always, Lawrence, thanks for having me. It`s a tradition of
the NAACP, when it has this convention during a presidential election year,
to invite both a Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee, and Mitt
Romney was accepting, he did come. And it was very polite, up until the
point, of course, when he mentioned Obamacare.
And to many in the audience, Obamacare itself is still somewhat of a
slur. That`s not the name of the program. I know oftentimes as pundits,
we use it loosely, but some people feel that`s a negative term, even a
pejorative term, and he was booed.
He was actually applauded when he first came out. He got some other
rounds of applause, because the -- and these are the very black leaders he
claimed to have talked to on FOX tonight. He brought about 20 black
Republicans with him into the room, and they kind of served as applauders
for his applause lines.
It was bizarre. I think a term you used was weird. He made several
of the statements that were really strange.
He even made other statements that many of us thought were
disrespectful. For example, he talked about preserving traditional
marriage, to an organization that most recently -- this is the oldest civil
rights organization in the country -- most recently just endorsed marriage
He made a big pitch for charter schools to an organization where
there`s really no consensus about that. There are a lot of communities,
especially in New York, the New York state conference in the NAACP is
dealing with a proliferation of charter schools, a many communities are,
around the country. So that was inappropriate.
He also tied that in to his ongoing attack against unions and
teachers` unions. He was even, I think many of us found him and many in
the audience found him to be paternalistic in saying he would be the best
president for the African-American community.
That`s something Barack Obama has never even said, the first African-
American president. I think that was really a very arrogant statement for
him to make.
And then, Lawrence, this might have been a small thing, but it`s
important for people to understand. You cannot be culturally ignorant. He
singled out one African-American who came with the 20 in his entourage as
an African-American that was in his kitchen cabinet in Massachusetts, and
he promised that he would remain in his kitchen cabinet if he was in the
To talk about being in the kitchen and not talk about an African-
American actually being in your cabinet is really not a good metaphor to
use with African-Americans.
O`DONNELL: Goldie Taylor, you`re a Southerner, you know the Southern
strategy that Republicans have used since Nixon and started a little bit
before that, where there`s actually an almost-overt sometimes appeal to
racial and racist voting.
And tell me, Goldie, if I`m being too cynical, to think that the
Romney campaign actually went in that room today with the hope of getting
booed, at least three times, because they want the video of their candidate
being booed by the NAACP to play in certain racist precincts where that
will actually help them?
GOLDIE TAYLOR, THE GRIO.COM: I don`t think you`re being too cynical
at all. As, you know, our friend Toure said earlier today, you know, I
truly believe that Mitt Romney went into that room, not to speak to the
NAACP, but to speak to his base. He still has a large base of conservative
voters that he has to convince that he`s one of them. And given his
switching stance on issues, they just don`t trust him. And so he looked to
the NAACP to give him some kind of credibility.
If he really intended to speak to this venerable civil rights
organization, the oldest in our country, then he might have walked into the
room and talked about how we fix basic public education, because we know
education disrupts poverty. If he intended, I think, to speak to the
NAACP, then maybe he would have gone into the room to repudiate some of the
attacks on, you know, people who want to vote in this country.
People who are legally able to vote in this country, and some of the
very draconian laws that have come to grow to keep, you know, everyday
citizens from the polls, who happen to skew Democratic -- the elderly,
young college students, you know, people who are poor, who don`t have
access readily to some of the IDs that they are looking for today. Maybe
we would have spoken to these issues.
Instead, as Mark Thompson said, he was highly paternalistic. He used
a word like "Obamacare," which is a derisive term for the Affordable Care
TAYLOR: If he was truly interested in speaking to the NAACP, then he
would have done that. But I`ll tell you this, he said we didn`t know his
heart and maybe we would vote for him if we did. Well, we learned his
heart tonight, because he left that speech and went to a fund-raiser and
said out loud, and I quote, "If all they`re looking for is more free
government stuff, they should vote for the other guy."
That tells me all I need to know now about Mitt Romney, who at first I
believed was just disconnected. Now I know his problem is much bigger than
O`DONNELL: Toure, I want us to listen to a small clip of Romney
talking about the first African-American president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: Someone had told us in the 1950s or 1960s that a black
citizen would serve as the 44th of the United States, we would have been
proud and many would have been surprised.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Toure, he would have been really surprised, because at
that time, as you`ve pointed out, in his religion, black men were not
allowed to become simply priests. And so it would have been even more
shocking and surprising to say to him, in the 1960s, a black citizen might
become the president of the Mormon Church. That`s even more far fetched.
TOURE, "THE CYCLE": Right, that would have been impossible at that
point. Of course, at that point, it would have been functionally
impossible in the United States.
I mean, when you take me back to the `60s, you may me think about how
progressive Mr. George Romney was. How much further along the father was
than the son on these issues. George Romney marched with civil right
activists in 1963. He worked in Nixon`s Housing and Urban Development
Office to -- as secretary to fight housing discrimination, right?
I mean, he`s rejecting Barry Goldwater, right, because he`s not
progressive enough, because he`s too racist.
So it`s not trickling down to the son, for some reason. I mean, I
think that this is a classic Republican strategy that we saw today. Using
black people to score points with white people, as we`ve said already, the
real audience was not in the room. He`s talking to white people --
THOMPSON: Via television.
O`DONNELL: That would be why he didn`t adjust the Republican
boilerplate in the speech. It`s a real easy thing to do. In no speech do
you include every single one of your policy items. He could have left
those out with, but those were left in there deliberately.
TOURE: He wants to get booed. It makes him either look tough and
strong to the white people watching, or make him look sympathetic to the
white people watching. He`s speaking to the independents and as Goldie
said, to the base.
If he really wanted to speak to black people, the job creator, as he
call himself, could have talked about 14.4 percent unemployment, double the
white rate, far higher than the national average. Speak to that. What are
you going to do about that? If you want to speak to some of the black
people in the room and win some of those votes.
But the line that really jumped out at me is this -- if you understand
who I truly am in my heart. Isn`t that the kind of thing you hear people
say when they`re accused of being racist, and they`re trying to make an
apology? Well, I`m not racist in my heart, my mouth moved wrong, but my
heart is clean. And he wasn`t saying he`s racist, but I think in there
he`s saying the Republican Party has been racist, but I am not.
O`DONNELL: And, Goldie, if he`s going to bring up his heart and what
is secretly in his heart, he could have spent the rest of the speech
telling us what`s in his heart.
TAYLOR: He could have told us what was in his heart. He could have
rolled up his sleeves and gone into African-American communities would
cameras, without handlers to really understand where people are in their
daily lives, what their challenges are, to talk about meaningful and
But at the end of the day, I think we learned a lot about his heart
O`DONNELL: Mark Thompson, Toure, and Goldie Taylor, thank you very
much for joining me tonight.
THOMPSON: Thank you.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we`ll have more on Mitt Romney at the NAACP.
Michael Eric Dyson is going to join us.
And breaking news, House Republicans voted yet again to repeal the
Affordable Care Act. Krystal Ball and Karen Finney will join me on that.
And on what Michelle Obama`s doing on the campaign trail.
And last night, we told you that your cell phone was spying on you and
that law enforcement could get information without a warrant. Tonight,
we`ll tell you what can be learned about you from the data that your cell
phone is producing.
And in the "Rewrite," the love/hate relationship between the religious
right and pornography.
O`DONNELL: So Google starts a worldwide campaign to make sure that
gay people don`t get killed for being gay. And some American right-wing
religious fanatics decide, well, now is the time to boycott Google. That`s
in tonight`s "Rewrite."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: But there`s another reason. I believe that if you understood
who I truly am in my heart, and if it were possible to fully communicate
what I believe is in the real enduring best interest of American --
African-American families, you would vote for me for president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, why isn`t it possible to communicate that, then?
Of course, Mitt Romney revealed nothing of who he truly is in his
heart. And if there is one thing that the NAACP would have liked to know
today about Mitt Romney, it is exactly that. What`s in his heart?
They knew his policy positions before he walked in the room, and what
they didn`t really know is who he really is, and they still don`t know
that. And that has left an opening for team Obama to try to provide a
window into the heart or heartlessness of Mitt Romney.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE EARNEST: Out of the blue one day, we were told to build a 30-
foot stage. Gathered the guys and we built that 30-foot stage, not knowing
what it was for. Just days later, all three shifts were told to assemble
in the warehouse. A group of people walked out on that stage and told us
that the plant is now closed and all of you are fired.
I looked both ways, I looked at the crowd, and we all just lost our
jobs. We don`t have any income.
Mitt Romney made over $100 million by shutting down our plant and
devastated our lives. It turns out that when we built that stage, it was
like building my own coffin. And it just made me sick.
ANNOUNCER: Priorities USA Action is responsible for the content of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst, professor Michael
Eric Dyson of Georgetown University and Howard Fineman, "Huffington Post"
Michael, these words fascinate me. Mitt Romney said, "If it were
possible to fully communicate what I believe is in the real enduring best
interest of African-American families, you would vote for me."
He`s suggesting there that for some reason, it is not possible to
communicate this. Why? Because that audience wouldn`t understand it? Why
can`t he communicate it?
DYSON: I mean, one of the few audiences that really would understand
it, because they have an old Negro spiritual that says, I want to be a
Christian in my heart.
So here`s a guy who`s speaking heart language to people who understand
heart language, and yet you don`t articulate, you don`t forthcome. And I
think the problem here is that it was a speech that was calculated as
Goldie Taylor said and as Toure said, for a broader audience.
But he missed a golden opportunity to really win over, by a few
percentage points, some African-American people who would have seen him as
reasonable, who would have seen him as a person who was willing to reach
out beyond the confines and conventions of his own conservative party, to
really address the issues of African-American people.
As you said, the public policy issues were well vetted. What we
needed to understand from him is, what do you feel? How do you identify?
What are the empathetic nodes and moments of your life? And we heard
O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman, what was team Romney trying to accomplish
HOWARD FINEMAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first, I want to say
that I haven`t heard Mitt Romney discuss any nodes in moments of his life,
and that`s part partly because his whole strategy in this campaign is to
disappear. Sometimes I think he would do best by depositing himself in a
Swiss bank account and disappearing. At least that`s their strategy.
Their strategy is to make Mitt Romney all but disappear and try to put
all the focus on President Obama. So in that sense, this is of a piece
with everything else he`s done in the campaign. He hasn`t talked about his
faith, he doesn`t really want to do that. He doesn`t really want to talk
about his feelings. That`s not something he does. He has not spelled out,
in many details, most of what his policy positions are. It`s as though
he`s invisible and wants to keep the focus on the president.
But I agree he missed an opportunity here. I think what the Romney
campaign wanted and what they thought they`d get was a triple play out of
this. By showing up, by going to the NAACP, he might get some credit,
although he took a lot of it away with the use of the word "Obamacare,"
which is a loaded word -- with some independent white voters in suburbs,
they may say, look, they went to the NAACP, isn`t that nice?
But there are other parts of the white voting community, the
conservative party in the South, that have their doubts about Mitt Romney
as a conservative, who, sadly, perhaps, will have their views strengthened
about him as a conservative by watching him being booed by that audience.
FINEMAN: And I think, I think you said earlier, Lawrence, that this
is a good with a tin ear to his audience. As he said later, he knew, in
advance, that he was going to be booed. By using the word "Obamacare,"
they can`t be that dumb in the Romney campaign that they didn`t know that
that was a red flag. And I think what they told him to do was stand there
and let the boos roll, which is precisely what happened.
O`DONNELL: Michael, forget political punditry, forget election
analysis. Tell me what it felt like for you, as a black man in America,
listening to that speech today.
DYSON: Well, look, on the one hand, I wanted to give him credit, and
I did, for showing up, because his, you know, Republican predecessor,
George W. Bush, just at the end, said, I`m not going to go, and forbade his
schedulers to move him through to the protocols of showing up at the big,
But on the other hand, I thought, my God, I`m a black man, I`m a black
person in America, and I have to be grateful that you would take me
seriously as a citizen. That I have somehow proved to be outside the arc
and literally the pale and pigment of the larger American political makeup
that somehow you have to condescend? And I should be grateful that you
took me seriously, as a voting constituency, as a human being?
And I thought, also, about all of the meanings of race that circulate
around Mitt Romney. The fact that as a Mormon, his own particular region
had a racial animus and a hostility towards African-American people. And I
remember Mormons coming to my door, telling me about the cursing of a
certain kind of black lineage, but despite that, we could serve in some
kind of subsection --
O`DONNELL: A junior capacity.
DYSON: A junior capacity, a junior associate, and also ran.
And so I thought about that. But the fact that he was moving forward.
But he wasn`t really able to cut through all of the red tape.
You know, Howard Fineman talks about the fact that this is -- he`s
been a cipher, and that`s what they want. But the problem is, he says, if
you knew it was in my heart. Well, we don`t know. Why don`t you tell us?
You invite you to interrogate us, invite us to ask what`s there, and
you invite us to see the vapidity, ubiquity, the emptiness, the inability
to express fundamental truths and beliefs that can move us. I mean, you
don`t have to be a rapper to say, how can I move the crowd? You want to
move the crowd. As a political figure who articulates a vision that not
only speaks to us in a cerebral capacity, but as a human being to human
being, and I think he missed that opportunity to do so, and I felt he was a
person who missed it.
O`DONNELL: Howard, I think this is a very important point that
Michael just made, this notion should be grateful in some sense that Mitt
Romney would acknowledge them as American voters and worthy of being spoken
But this is the same person who as governor of Massachusetts spent
four years in an office at the top of Beacon Hill, the governor`s office in
Boston, without ever once, ever once having a meeting there with the NAACP.
FINEMAN: Yes, and also, and also, Lawrence, moving to change the
affirmative action office and rules in Massachusetts in a way that was
controversial. It certainly wasn`t at the top of his agenda.
One thing that strikes me here is I`ve been through this movie before
to some extent, Lawrence, and so have you. With the history of the
Republican Party, this is now the second presidential candidate that I`ve
heard invoking the civil rights sensitivities of his father.
George W. Bush did it to some extent with George H.W. Bush, who
famously, you know, had at least some minimal civil rights involved. Now
he did it with George Romney. We learned yet today more about George
Romney again than we did about father than George Romney the son.
O`DONNELL: Howard and Michael Eric Dyson, thanks for joining us.
Michael, there has been a lot of talk today of you`ve got to give him
credit for showing up. I don`t think you do.
DYSON: Right, right.
O`DONNELL: That`s -- you give him credit for speaking to the American
voter, who are assembled at this convention?
DYSON: You know, Chris Rock was famous for saying about black people,
he was being self-critical. He says, some black men want to get credit for
things you should do, like taking care of my kids. You`re the political
candidate for the highest office in the land, are we to give you credit for
showing and to for saying something substantive? I don`t think so.
O`DONNELL: That`s a great.
Again, guys, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
FINEMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Michelle Obama is back on the campaign trail.
Karen Finney and Krystal Ball are here to talk about it.
And why you should be very worried about what cell phone data is
available to the police. They know where you are every minute you`ve got
that little thing in your pocket.
And in the "Rewrite," it`s the right-wing religious nuts versus
Google. Good luck with that one.
O`DONNELL: Today was episode 33 of repeal the affordable care act in
the House of Representatives.
And yesterday Michelle Obama went back on the campaign trail,
connecting with Americans who are struggling with this economy.
Krystal ball and Karen Finney will join me on those subjects.
And later, the secrets your cell phone can reveal about you, your cell
phone is revealing those secrets to your cell phone carrier. You`ve got to
worry about this. We`re going to have an expert tell us exactly what`s
happening to all that data.
And in the "rewrite" tonight, some right-wing conservative religious
fanatics in this country have decided it is time to boycott Google. The
little problem there being that studies show that religious conservatives
consume more Internet porn than the rest of us and how are they going to
find that stuff without Google? It`s in the "rewrite."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: The American people want
us to create jobs, that`s what we should be using this time on the floor
for. Not on this useless bill to nowhere. Bill to nowhere that does
serious damage to the health and economic well-being of America`s families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, depending on how you count it,
today marked either the 31st or the 33rd time, the House of Representatives
voted to repeal the president`s health care law. And for the 30-something
time, the repeal passed. This time with 244 yes, 145 nays, five Democrats
voted with Republicans for the repeal. The bill will now move to the
Senate, where it will take its place beside the 30 other bills that are
just being ignore there had.
Joining me now, co-host of NBC`s "the Cycle," Krystal ball and Karen
Finney, former DNC communications director and MSNBC political analyst.
Krystal, this has to be the last one. No, it has to! They can`t.
They just did this because, you know, they felt like wicked bad, you know,
when the Supreme Court ruled against them on this thing. And they go,
let`s do that one more time.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: The 33rd time`s a charm, right?
O`DONNELL: We`re done. All right. We`re done.
BALL: Well, I do think that the politics of this are shifting. And
we did have a new "Washington Post" poll out saying that now it`s tied,
whether how voters feel about the health care law, 47-47, which is
different. It used to be much more in favor of repeal. So that has
I also think now we`re getting into a zone where people are actually
starting to learn about some of the benefits that they are getting or will
get from the law. And it`s a much different deal to say, you are getting
this thing now and we want to take it away from you.
So, for example, you have the DCCC actually putting up some ads,
touting the benefits of the affordable care act, as opposed to in 2010,
when Democrats very much, you know, as I was running for Congress at this
time, so I saw this across the country, Democrats very much ran away from
that bill, which sent a signal to the American public. Here they passed
this bill, and even the people who passed it don`t want to talk about it.
O`DONNELL: Now, the most popular campaigner out there, in this
campaign season, is, of course, Michelle Obama. She`s got the highest poll
numbers of anyone, and she went to Florida and continued to emphasize that
her -- that she and her husband and their families know what economic
struggle feels like. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: My father was a
blue-collar city worker. He worked at with MS. He worked at the city
water plant his entire life. And my family lived in a little bitty
apartment on the south side of Chicago. And growing up -- I know we`ve got
some South Siders here. And growing up, I saw how my parents saved and
sacrificed and poured everything they had into me and my brother. They
held us to the same high standard of excellence because they wanted us to
both have the kind of education they could only dream of. How many people
can relate to that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, after the week of the Romney clan up there
on the lake, in the big speedboat, on the jet skis with the repeated
photographs of the multi-million-dollar gigantic lakeside mansion that they
have up there, these stories have, I think, a different resonance now than
they did four years ago. And in fact, I don`t remember the first lady
getting into that kind of specificity four years ago.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, actually, Lawrence,
she did. Because, remember, her father also suffers from a medical
condition, I believe it was MS, and so, I mean, they did talk about it
some. But I think part of what`s changed, and Linda Lake has talked about
this, a great democratic pollster that, you know, part of what people want
to know now is, do you understand what I`m going through? Do you -- can I
trust you to understand what it`s like to be a middle class person in this
country, trying, working hard every day, trying to figure out how to send
my kids to college, worrying about my health care, and think about just the
contrast between the way, also in tone, Michelle was talking to that
audience and connecting, and the way, I mean, there`s so much wrong with
what Mitt Romney said at the end of the NAACP audience.
But specifically on Obama care, how dare he go into a room full of
people who are one of the communities in this country, communities of
color, who rely on the services that Obama care is now going to provide,
and say, I`m going to take it away and not think that he has to have some
kind of response to, and here`s what I`m going to do instead.
So I mean, this idea of, who do you trust, and connecting with people,
I think that`s really what Michelle taps into.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to some more of Michelle Obama, because I
think she`s a fascinating political speaker, in that it`s always fresh. I
mean, it`s interesting, Karen, that you`ve heard some of these things
before. I haven`t, and I`ve heard her speak a lot, but not as much as you
have. And she doesn`t work with a prompter and she seems to be speaking
from the heart, the heart that Mitt Romney can`t find in himself.
BALL: That he has.
O`DONNELL: Hey, it`s very powerful stuff. Let`s listen to her
talking about the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Barack Obama is the son of a single mother, who struggled to
put herself through school and pay the bills. Barack is the grandson of a
woman who woke up before dawn every day to catch a bus to her job at the
bank. And even though Barack`s grandmother was good at her job and helped
support her family, like so many women, she hit that glass ceiling and
watched men no more qualified than she was, men she`d actually trained be
promoted up the ladder ahead of her. Just understand that your president,
Barack Obama, knows what it means when a family struggles.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Karen, and Krystal, there`s no politics in that. That`s
just a personal story.
BALL: It`s the proud wife. And what I would underscore here is,
Michelle Obama and the president are the personification of the American
dream. And Mitt Romney and Ann Romney, in a lot of ways, are the
personification of the America that we`re going to become, where the rich
and the powerful just gain more wealth and more power.
O`DONNELL: Karen -- go ahead.
FINNEY: Yes. I was just going to say, and tactically speaking, I
mean, you know, some of the other places you`ll see Michelle pop up on the
campaign trail, and she actually did an event with a Web site that
specifically targets Latina mothers. So this idea of connecting with women
on the struggles that women face. And again, because remember African-
American women, that was the largest group that voted for Barack Obama. We
happen to be 52 percent of the voting population. So connecting with women
as well and saying, this is a president who understands what women are
going through, whether you`re working in the home or outside of the home.
O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Krystal ball, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.
BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, why an anti-gay group wants to boycott Google
and why they just can`t quit Google. That`s in the "rewrite."
And police are collecting enormous amounts of data from your cell
phone and millions of cell phones around the country. We don`t know what
they`re doing it. We`ll have a follow-up on last night`s report. That is
O`DONNELL: Yesterday an anti-gay group threatened to boycott Google.
And today, they realized they just can`t quit Google. That`s next in the
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s "rewrite," the love/hate relationship between
right-wing religious fanatics and porn. The American family association,
which is dedicated to making sure gay people cannot have families, is
talking boycott once again, even though their record on boycotting
companies that they think are just too gay friendly, isn`t so great.
They launched a boycott of home depot after home depot began
participating in gay pride festivals around the country. And for fiscal
year 2011, the first full year of the American family association`s boycott
of home depot, home depot`s earnings increased 16 percent to $3.8 billion,
beating all analysts` predictions.
Yesterday on American family association, radio Buster Wilson started
talking about a new boycott. The boycott I really, really want to see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BUSTER WILSON, AMERICAN FAMILY ASSOCIATION: Google has launched a
worldwide push for gay rights now. Google has launched a campaign for gay
rights called legalize love initiative. It`s to promote human rights and
tackle employment discriminations in countries with anti-gay laws on the
books. The campaign`s first two target countries are Poland, which does
not recognize same-sex couples , in Singapore, which criminalizes gay sex.
Legalized love will eventually spread to every country where the
search engine giant has offices, and certainly that will involve the United
States. I said that I did not want to support any efforts like this and,
in fact, we are a part of boycotting efforts similar to this, with other
This is going to be a hard one for a lot of us. A lot of us are so
integrated into Google and Google products, this is going to be a tough
one. It`s more than just a search engine. Many of us have android phones.
The android system is a Google product. Gmail and all those kinds of
things, you tube and all those other things. It`s not just the search
engine, so this one`s going to be tough. This is going to be one of those
situations where I guess we`ll test the meat of our convictions. Google,
out there pushing for same-sex equality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Buster Wilson wants to test the meat, and he knows it`s
going to be tough. And he still, still wants to test the meat. Yes. This
one`s going to be really, really hard, because like Buster says --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILSON: A lot of us are so integrated into Google.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: How integrated? Well, let`s take a look at Internet porn
as an example.
A Harvard business school study of two years of credit card data of
internet porn purchases, and let me just say right here, I am officially
way out of my depth. I, personally, don`t know anything about Internet
porn purchases. I mean, seriously. Paying for it? Who does that?
Well, according to the study, conservatives are the biggest porn
purchasers in America. Religious conservatives, the states that consume
the most porn tend to be more conservative and more religious. The states
with the biggest per capital -- the single state with the biggest per
capita subscriptions of online porn is Utah.
Eight of the top ten porn-consuming states voted Republican in the
last presidential election. The states that have passed laws banning same-
sex marriage have 11 percent more porn subscriber freaks who pay for it
than states that haven`t passed laws banning same-sex marriage.
States where a majority of the residents agree with the statement, I
have old-fashioned values about family and marriage, buy more porn online.
States where a majority of residents agree with the statement, aids might
be God`s punishment for immoral sexual behavior, buy more porn online.
And, of course, pretty much everyone buying that porn finds the porn they
want to buy through Google. And so, yes, a boycott of Google is going to
be really tough for religious conservatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILSON: I guess we`ll test the meat of our convictions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Turns out after thinking about testing the meat for a day,
Buster Wilson is now afraid of how big temptation the meat is for even the
religious right-wing fanatics of the American family association.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have no idea how bad it gets!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so today, on the Buster blog, which is not a gay porn
site, not yet, anyway, Buster Wilson backed down. "I was speaking on my
show about how horrible it is that companies like Google, like home depot
and others use their powerful influence in our communities to push the gay
agenda upon the rest of us, like pushing for homosexual marriage, demanding
special designations and rights for them simply because of their preferred
sexual lifestyles. I stated that it would be tough for someone like me to
choose to not be supportive of someone like Google, because I am so
intertwined with Google products. But I never called for a Google
Later, Buster tweeted from his android phone, which is a Google
product, that, he was not calling for a boycott and just wants everyone to,
quote, "move on."
Poor Buster. Poor, poor Buster. He just got way too intertwined with
Google, and he thinks of Google as a person now. He just said, "it would
be tough for someone like me to choose not to be supportive of someone like
Google, because I am so intertwined with Google." Someone like Google?
Boy. Buster`s got it bad. You know, I mean, you know right now, he`s just
staring at Google and thinking, I wish I knew how to quit you.
O`DONNELL: What your cell phone knows about you should scare you?
Several times a minute your cell phone tells your wireless carrier exactly
where you are. Your wireless carrier knows who you`ve been talking to.
Your wireless carrier knows who you`ve been texting, and your wireless
carrier will automatically hand that over to the police, mostly without a
warrant. A federal appeals court in Washington found that just the
location data that wireless companies have can tell whether you, quote,
"are a weekly churchgoer, a heavy drinker, a regular at the gym, and
unfaithful husband, an outpatient receiving medical treatment, an associate
of particular individuals or political groups, and not just one such fact
about a person, all such facts."
The American civil liberties union is worried about what`s happening
to this information. Congressman Ed Markey was here last night, reporting
on his investigation on cell phone data.
And joining me now is Sam Biddle, senior staff right for "Gizmodo."
Sam, there`s so many strange things about this, including that we
don`t know how long cell phone companies keep this data. The ACLU reports
that the problem is cell phone companies refuse to reveal how long they
keep it, mostly. Sprint says they keep it for 18 to 24 months. At&t says
they`ve been holding on it since July of 2008 which is about any end date -
O`DONNELL: So, you just don`t know how long these data out there and
what they can find out.
SAM BIDDLE, SENIOR STAFF, GIZMODO.COM: We have to take them at their
word when they say it`s only been so long. And like you said, there`s no
end date. So they`re holding on to this stuff really until they`re forced
to delete it.
O`DONNELL: And it`s kind of, they`re getting it within what used to
be their wiretap powers. But they`re getting it without warrants, most of
the police departments they ask for it, they just hand it over.
BIDDLE: Right. If a police agency comes and says there`s some sort
of danger or threat, which is such a nebulous criterion to begin with, they
hand it right over. It doesn`t have to be - I mean, it has to be
O`DONNELL: So for that to be a legitimate inquiry, you are trusting
the police officer who`s actually doing it. You are trusting that the
police officer isn`t just trying to find out what his girlfriend has been
up to. And there`s nothing to prevent that.
BIDDLE: No, nothing. Once it`s in the hands of the police, it`s
purely up to faith. And the amount you could infer from that data is
O`DONNELL: What are the kinds of things that someone working in a
police department or at a wireless company, who for their own interests,
never mind legitimate legal interests, what are the kinds of mischief they
can get up to with that data?
BIDDLE: You can find out someone`s employer, you can get into their
e-mail accounts. I mean , think about how many people`s passwords are some
variant of some personal bit of information. If you --
O`DONNELL: Mother`s maiden name.
BIDDLE: Right, exactly. If you say, oh, I lost my password, they
might say, what`s the name of your pet, what school you were, hat`s ass the
stuff that you can find that from someone`s cell phone if you fry for five
O`DONNELL: And how -- given that -- I think most people aren`t
worried about what police find out about them, but the fact that this is
going out there and that there are these massive data collections going on
means that they don`t know who is going to find out, what about.
BIDDLE: Well you know, it is interesting. Last summer, there were a
string of hacking attacks, successful ones, against local police agencies.
They were rape targets and this kind of stuff could be easily extracted.
And when the post --
O`DONNELL: So if the police are grabbing all this stuff and I can
hack into the police, I can get it because they`ve picked it up for me.
BIDDLE: Right. Now you`ve got it.
O`DONNELL: Sam Biddle of gizmodo.com gets tonight`s "Last Word.
BIDDLE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: "The Ed Show" is up next.
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