'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, January 15th, 2013
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 15, 2013
Guests: Steve Kozachik, Howard Fineman, Ryan Grim, Jared Bernstein
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The National Rifle Association is singing
to new lows in the polls, and new lows in their tactics against President
Obama. They are now using the president`s daughters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, President Obama trumped Congress.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: The president is planning to take
matters into his own hands --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And take executive action on guns.
JANSING: -- when it comes to gun control.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m confident that
there are some steps that we can take.
JANSING: Nineteen possible executive actions he could take.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any real gun reform faces a very uphill battle in
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I`m against having a king.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President says if Congress doesn`t do what I want
PAUL: Someone who wants to bypass the Constitution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m going to issue an executive order.
PAUL: That someone who wants to act like a king or a monarch.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The power to make laws starts in the House and
JANSING: Congress didn`t get anything done after one of their one was
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a lot of mythology around gun control
in this country.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Has it become the guns over people party?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have the extremists on talk radio?
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I am totally confused.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve got extremist politicians.
PAUL: I`m against having a king.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their extremist is destroying them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of this comes as governors of New York,
Delaware, and Maryland --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moving fast to change gun laws.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some of the strictest laws in our nation on
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Led by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: The people of this state are crying
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: I hope that what Governor Cuomo did
becomes a national model.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not (EXPLETIVE DELETED) with this.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Maybe that`s just his way of speaking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m not letting anybody else take my guns.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Why would you ever want to take away this
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a lot of mythology around gun control
in this country.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: If anything real gets done about guns, it
will be because of victims` groups.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: That`s what`s driving the American
OBAMA: I`m confident that there are some steps that we can take --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is President Obama prepared to go it alone if
Congress won`t crack down on guns?
O`DONNELL: The National Rifle Association has opened a new line of
attack against President Obama today. This time using his daughters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AD NARRATOR: Are the presidents` kids more important than yours?
Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when
his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools. Mr. Obama demands
the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he is just another elitist
hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security, protection for their
kids and gun free zones for ours.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The NRA suffered a big loss in New York today with
Governor Andrew Cuomo signing into law the toughest gun control legislation
in the country, strengthening the state`s existing assault weapons ban.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Going to put rules in place that actually protect innocent
people in society. That is what the state of New York is doing today. And
it says common sense can win. And good people can win.
And you can actually get government to work and get good things to
happen. You can overpower the extremists with intelligence and with reason
and with common sense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The NRA immediately released this statement. "These gun
control schemes have failed in the past and will have no impact on public
safety and crime. Sadly, the New York legislature gave no consideration to
that reality. While lawmakers could have taken a step towards
strengthening mental health reporting and focusing on criminals, they opted
for trampling the rights of law-abiding gun owners in New York and they did
it under a veil of secrecy in the dark of night."
Joy Reid, the NRA seems to be surprised that the New York legislature,
like other legislatures, sometimes work after 5:00.
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: I know, who would have thunk it, right?
Politicians working after 5:00, and passing something that is really
substantial. I was just going through the provisions of the law. They
didn`t just work in the dead of night and do something.
O`DONNELL: Well, they passed it in the Senate last night and they
passed it in the assembly, the House, as it were, in New York today, in the
light of day.
REID: Exactly. In the light of day. And this is the way, I hate to
break it to the NRA. They think that politics is supposed to work with NRA
lobbyists writing legislation and it being passed with the flourishing, the
sort of pen that they give to the person.
So, that`s not the way it works this time. And one of the things that
I think is the important thing that was done here is that we learn through
this. There`s been this fake debate online today about and some in the
media, about what is an assault weapon anyway? What is it really?
You know what it is?
O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh says there is no such thing.
REID: There is no such thing.
You know what it is? It is whatever the controlling government
authority says it is. It is whatever the government decides the assault
weapons ban is, and in this case, the state of New York has decided what it
is and decided to ban it.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Rush Limbaugh said about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: None of these proposals would have stopped the shooter in
Newtown, Connecticut, none of them. There is no such thing as an assault
weapon runaway. An assault weapons ban is a catch-all term, there is no
such thing, that is not an official category.
If they could write their ticket, if they could, they would eliminate
guns. And there are a whole host of reasons why, and safety is probably
not in the top five. I say it in a non-threatening way, in an attempted
humorous way. The wet dream plan for eliminating guns in this country has
been a plan that the left has had for years. And it`s been sitting in a
drawer, somewhere waiting to be pulled out at the appropriate time, just
like health care was.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Karen Finney joining us from Washington.
The thing that would have changed what happened in New York is this
provision in the New York state, which you cannot have an ammunition
magazine that holds more than seven bullets. And so, that need to reload
after seven bullets, if Jared Loughner had to do that in Tucson, Arizona,
fewer people would have been shot and killed there.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, and I think there is a
provision that if you have someone who has mental problems in your home,
you have to show that you have the guns locked up. Who knows if that would
But, look, there are a number of provisions that Governor Cuomo and
the legislature in New York today put in place, that is a model. You know,
the NRA is not going to like that, because they have a different model that
they like, and that`s the "Stand Your Ground" laws, right? I mean, they
see all very differently than we do.
But I think there are a lot of things -- I want to say two things,
though, on this fake argument over the assault weapons ban. I mean, what
is an assault weapon? I mean, I talked to someone who is a Special Forces
officer who is deploying to Afghanistan. This is a guy in Iraq, been
Afghanistan, jumped in helicopter, like knows a thing or two about this.
And he said, no, that`s the kind of gun, that is a civilian version of
the kind of gun that we carry in war. You had General Stanley McChrystal
talking about those guns. You had General Colin Powell.
So, I think I`m going to take their words over Rush Limbaugh and some
of these other, you know, crazy people online who don`t actually know what
they`re talking about.
O`DONNELL: Now, Joy Reid to this very sick thing we saw in the NRA`s
ad as we saw when we opened this thing. The idea of comparing the life of
president`s children to other children, yes, they have armed guards around
them called the Secret Service. And yes, they also fly without boarding
And your children don`t get to fly without boarding passes. There are
a lot of differences in the lives of presidents` children than for our
children. And for the NRA to drag them into this and compare their Secret
Service protection to what the NRA says we should have in schools is the
most ugly and profoundly stupidest thing I have heard the NRA say.
REID: Yes, it`s amazing. Someone from RedState.com tweeted tonight,
you guys realize we`re losing this debate, right, because of things like
that. I mean, the reason we have such strict Secret Service protection for
the president`s families, unfortunately, is we had too many times in our
history, people with guns assassinating, unfortunately, presidents in the
United States. After President Kennedy was killed after somebody who had
ordered a gun through the mail. And then after Martin Luther King Jr. was
killed by somebody who got their gun the same way.
In 1968, when the third straw was broken in terms of Robert F. Kennedy
being killed, we passed the 1968 Gun Control Act, which up to that point
was the strictest gun control we had had. One of the things it did is it`s
prohibited buy a gun through the mail. So, we are seeing that the New York
legislature is responding to real time events, when they say things like
you have to protect guns in your home from somebody who is mentally ill, or
you face liability.
That is an incentive on people to do the sane and sort of obvious
thing, and restrictions on gun dealers, not to sell ammunition, let`s say,
over the Internet, the way that the shooter in aurora bought his
FINNEY: You know, Lawrence, can I just say --
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Karen.
FINNEY: So by their logic, right -- I mean, it`s really disgusting.
So by their logic, are they really saying schools are also drug-free zones,
so basically we`re saying we should let junkies come up and just, you know,
shoot up in our school yards? Because, I mean, if we`re going to get
through gun-free zones, because that`s not keeping our kids safe, now we`re
going to get rid of drug-free zone?
I mean, the logic is ridiculous. And it shows that they are losing.
They are losing support, all the polls show it within their movement,
outside their movement, and they know that the thing that is really a death
knell to their efforts to fight this are the parents and the victims, and
people who have survived this gun violence coming out and saying enough is
enough, because once you put a face to it and you put some real teeth in
these laws, it`s going to be very hard for them to throw the president`s
children, my goodness, out there in the way to get something done.
O`DONNELL: Well, Karen and Joy, I think you may have just gotten
through to the NRA, because as I was listening with this ear, in my other
ear, Nikki Eagan (ph) from the control room has given the breaking news
that the NRA has taken that ad off of their Web site. The one in which
they`re using Sasha and Malia and trying to say that the way their lives
are managed by the Secret Service is a lesson in how to manage our
children. They have finally taken a step back.
REID: That`s the sanest thing they have done in this whole debate.
I`ll just say very quickly before I came over here, the story of little
Noah Pozner, who was the youngest victim in Sandy Hook, just barely 6 years
old, and the fact that this mom asked the governor of the state of
Connecticut to view the open casket, much like what`s done with Emmitt Till
during the horror days of the civil rights movement, because her sweet
little boy from the -- you know here up had his long eyelashes and his
bundle of dark hair, but below the nose, his face was blown completely off.
That`s how she had to view the body of her little boy. And she wanted
not to just sweep under the rug the idea of a shooting, which sounds so
benign, and so banal, and have the horror of what was done to her little
boy to be visible.
So if we`re going to talk about the children who were not just shot at
Sandy Hook. They were slaughtered at Sandy Hook. We`re trying to stop
that. That`s why these laws are being passed.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, and Karen Finney, thank you both for joining me
REID: Thank you.
FINNEY: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, an Arizona Republican has had enough of his
party and he is leaving it. The tipping point? Guns. He will join me.
And later, one of the great myths about governing that President Obama
can party his way to agreement with Republicans. Just have a beer or two.
And in the rewrite tonight, another episode of crazy things
Republicans say about guns, which very conveniently will give us the
opportunity to quote what one Republican said about pornography.
O`DONNELL: The last straw for an Arizona Republican is his party`s
position on guns. He will join me next.
And later, why the president can`t win Republican hearts and minds by
showering them with invitations to the White House. He invites them. And
they don`t show up.
O`DONNELL: Last Tuesday marked two years since the Tucson shooting
that took the lives of six people and injured another 13, including former
Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. On the anniversary, Republican Tucson City
Councilman Steve Kozachik, known in Tucson as Steve K., organized a gun
guy-back that allowed residents to turn in the unwanted weapons to the
police department, in exchange for $50 Safeway gift cards, the grocery
store chain that was the scene of the Giffords shooting.
The Tucson Police Department collected and destroyed more than 200
guns in that drive, but not without opposition. The National Rifle
Association, of course, opposed the buy back and told NPR that it will work
with the Arizona state legislature to re-write the law in order to make it
illegal to destroy firearms in buy-backs.
And one Republican state senator even held his own gun buy-back on the
same day as Steve K. Instead of destroying the guns, he and other gun
rights advocates added them to their collections.
Just three days after the buyback, Steve K. wrote this in an op-ed for
"The Tucson Sentinel". "The Arizona Republican Party is an ideological
outlier, I am not and I see nothing that indicates that leadership is
inclined to move in any direction but further away from what I believe are
the values of this community. I will, therefore, be changing my party
register to Democrat.:"
Joining me now, the Republican-turned-Democrat, Tucson City Councilman
Steve, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
STEVE KOZACHIK (D), TUCSON CITY COUNCILMAN: Lawrence, thank you very
much for invitation. Appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Steve, I have seen politicians at different times change
party. It`s a rare occurrence. And in my experience, it`s usually an
accumulation of issues. It tends not to be a single issue.
Was it this single issue for you?
KOZACHIK: No, if you follow the legislature, it has been one thing
after another with the state legislature. We have embarrassing immigration
laws over the last few years, SB-1070. We have some amazingly insensitive
laws with respect of women`s rights. The whole issue of gender identity
crowd that the leader u continues to take aim at.
And the tipping point was, quite frankly, the over the top reaction
which was completely irrational to the buyback that I held on January 8
O`DONNELL: And, Steve, you`re a Republican, a gun owner. When this
horrible event happened in Tucson two years ago with Gabby Giffords being
gunned down and the others killed, did that change your view about gun
KOZACHIK: Well, I think it changed the whole community`s out look,
and not just Tucson, but we can talk about Columbine or Aurora or
Connecticut. Any communities who have gone through these horrific
massacres have to take a step back and really assess what we`re doing as a
community and as a nation with respect to gun laws.
And you mentioned in the intro, the gun buyback and the counter rally
that took place. And I got to tell you, the people who stood 50 feet away
from two dozen cops who were conducting the buyback that I had sanctioned,
they were standing out there with "cash for guns" signs, effectively, these
are guys who evidently consider the proper disposal of a firearm to be
tantamount to the desecration of a holy icon or something. So, they stood
out there with their firearms flea market and couldn`t have made the point
better that if I can walk up to you on a street corner, give you a lot of
cash and walk away with a firearm without knowing anything about my
psychological background or criminal history that just screams for some
sort of change in the law.
So, they made the point better than I could have, just by acting out
the way they did.
O`DONNELL: And, Steve, support for the NRA is sinking in polling.
The "Washington Post" poll shows only 40 percent have a favorable view of
the NRA, 44 percent an unfavorable view of the NRA.
Are this politics changing in Arizona, or at least in Tucson?
KOZACHIK: Well, they have to change, Lawrence, and the reason for
that is when we can`t even address in a rational manner the need for
background checks on a person to person transfer, when we can`t even have
that kind of a rational conversation, then we really have to reassess where
we are in terms of the whole national ethos. I mean, let`s talk about
oversized magazines. In the first section you had, somebody was mentioning
Jared Loughner murdered six people and injured 13 more in 45 seconds
in this community. If he had been limited to a five or a 10-round
magazine, the whole dynamics would have changed. He was tackled and was
subdued when he had to change magazines.
If we can`t have a rational conversation about armor piercing bullets,
for instance, unless you`re hunting alligator, the only reason you have to
have for an armor piercing bullets if you`re going to shoot a cop. We`ve
got to be able to get to the point where we can have a rational
conversation about this.
Background checks, armor-piercing bullets, oversize magazines. But
I`ve got to tell you, it was a completely benign event, the voluntary
surrender of a fireman that you`re simply uncomfortable with having in your
home and these guys have to act out in the street corner.
We accomplished three things in that. We continued the conversation.
We gave people a chance to get guns out of their homes. And these guys
made a point that we have to get our arms around background checks on
person to person transfers.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kozachik, thank you very much for joining us
KOZACHIK: You bet, thank you for the invitation.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama might just be forcing
Republicans to come to their senses about the debt ceiling.
And in the rewrite tonight, the idiotic things Republicans are saying
about guns, and why President Reagan and President George W. Bush would
disagree with them.
O`DONNELL: A quick update, Joy Reid and Karen Finney apparently
didn`t change the minds of the NRA in the first segment, the ad regarding
President Obama has not been taken down. The traffic to the Web site has
been making the Web site crash and sometimes slow to load tonight. But the
most ugly and stupidest ad the NRA has ever done is still there.
And in Massachusetts Senate race tonight, the inevitably of
Congressman Ed Markey winning the Senate seat that will be vacated by John
Kerry when he becomes secretary of state became a little more inevitable
today, when one of the Democrats considering a run for the seat announced
he would stay right where he is in the House of Representatives.
Congressman Michael Capuano has decided not to challenge Ed Markey for the
Coming up, a new episode of crazy things Republicans say about guns,
which will actually allow us to take a gratuitous detour into a crazy thing
a Republican said about pornography. That`s in the rewrite.
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the Boehner rule that is no
longer a rule. The Boehner rule, like the Hastert rule before it, said the
Republican speaker would not allow a vote on any bill that does not have
the support of the majority of House Republicans, not all House
Republicans, but a majority of House Republicans. Boehner first broke that
rule on New Year`s Day when he allowed a vote to avert the fiscal curb and
raise the top income tax rate.
The fiscal cliff deal passed the House 257 to 167, with only 85
Republicans voting for it, and 151 Republicans voting against it. Boehner
broke his rule again tonight when he allowed a vote on a 51 billion dollar
Hurricane Sandy relief package. The Sandy Aid bill passed the House, 241
to 180, with just 49 Republicans voting for it and 179 Republicans voting
Today, Chuck Todd asked if the Boehner Rule will apply to the debt
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS POLITICAL DIRECTOR: If there is not a majority
in the House Republican conference to raise the debt limit, but there is a
majority in the House of Representatives to raise a clean debt limit, would
the leadership be willing to do that?
REP. GREG WALDEN, NRCC CHAIRMAN: You know, let`s look at how do we
avoid default on America and America`s debt? How do we avoid these issues
that are going to bankrupt the country long-term?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The guy kept talking, but he simply refused to answer
Chuck`s question. He said a lot more words, but I`m not going to waste
your time with what those words were. But Rush Limbaugh thinks that he
knows what is going to happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Crisis to crisis, Republicans
always cave, but it is a never-ending cycle. Let`s go ahead, let`s --
let`s do the fiscal cliff. And let`s take it to them on the debt ceiling.
That is what we`ll do on the debt limit. That is where we`ll fight the
battle. That is where we`ll take it to Obama. That is where we`ll make
him pay. That`s where we`ll get the spending cuts. Remember that?
That is where we are. We`re now at the debt limit. And guess what?
This is not the time to fight this battle. We can`t win anything on the
debt limit. And when we get to March and the continuing resolution -- you
know what -- what will be said then? This is not the hill to fight on.
This -- we don`t want to be responsible for people not getting their Social
Security checks. We don`t want to be blamed for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now are Ryan Grim, Washington bureau chief for
"Huffington Post," and Jared Bernstein, former chief economist for Vice
President Biden and an MSNBC contributor. Ryan, so they really -- on the
debt ceiling, if all the Democrats voted to raise it, they would only need
18 Republican votes to raise it. Is that the kind of thing we`re going to
RYAN GRIM, "HUFFINGTON POST": I mean, you`re either going to see that
or you`re going to see a complete and total cave. But I don`t think you
will see a complete and total one, because you still have that kind of
revaunchist Tea Party element still hanging around.
So, you know, I think it will be more like what you saw with Sandy and
what you saw with the fiscal cliff. A lot of Democrats and then a not
insubstantial number of Republicans, by no means a majority, but a healthy
chunk of them, you know, 50 to 80, something like that.
O`DONNELL: Well, the voting for an increase in the debt ceiling by
Republicans is gaining some real public support here. A quick Tweet here
from Tony Frado, former Treasury Department official in the Bush White
House. he Tweeted, "I don`t know if I can make it anymore clear, there is
no rational alternative to raising the debt ceiling, and preferably early."
In the Senate today, the republican side of the Senate, Susan Collins
issued a statement. "Senator Collins recognizes that the debt ceiling is
going to have to be raised because the U.S. default cannot default on its
obligations to pay for spending that has already occurred."
Another item coming out of Alaska on Lisa Murkowski, Republican
senator. Murkowski, at a news minor editorial board meeting on January
9th, said she doesn`t think the debt limit should be used for political
leverage. Murkowski said not all of her colleagues in the Senate will say
it out loud, but she believes most agree that failing to raise the debt
limit would harm perception of the country.
Jared Bernstein, the momentum seems to be building for increasing
sanity on the Republican side of this question in Congress.
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Which is a good thing. I
mean, one of the lessons here -- and it is interesting, you know, basically
if Rush Limbaugh is upset about this, that means something probably good is
happening in politics.
O`DONNELL: Yes, yes.
BERNSTEIN: And kind of -- you are really seeing a division within the
Republicans, obviously, between those who are just very stuck in kind of a
mentality towards their base that is obviously very destructive towards
that of the broader nation, and a bunch of others who kind of figure a
couple of other things. One, we would like to stick around here and maybe
win some election. And two, perhaps inflicting wound after wound on the
economy isn`t really what folks sent us here to do.
O`DONNELL: And Ryan, the funny thing about this is, this can end up
being perceived as some sort of Republican cave, when they never should
have taken a party position against raising the debt ceiling in the first
place. So that doing the rational thing could actually simply look
rational when they chose to do it.
GRIM: Right, exactly. They -- if they had never made a big deal
about this to begin with, then they wouldn`t be in this situation. Now,
Obama kind of aided and abetted them in 2011, because he wanted the debt
ceiling to be the leverage that they could come to this grand bargain that
he really wanted in 2011.
That never happened. Since then, he has been consistent saying, I am
not going to mess around with the debt ceiling anymore. And good for him
on that. But you`re right. As Newt Gingrich said, and very wisely and
very moderately and reasonably -- he said, don`t pick this fight because
you`re going to lose it.
So don`t create a national crisis around this that is only going to
wind up with you caving. So just do it now, do it quietly, do it early,
like Tony Frado is saying. The sooner you do it, the less attention and
less people notice that you -- that all of this happened.
BERNSTEIN: So the only thing I would say about all of this is that,
you know, some of us have this sense of relief when we dealt with the
fiscal curb and now with the debt ceiling. If we blow through these
without a crisis, we`re all going to, you know, wipe our brows and say,
hey, that was good. You know, politics was working.
No, wrong. Just the fact that -- the fact that we have been dealing
with these crises when there is a real economy out there that actually
demands policy attention is really political malpractice.
O`DONNELL: Jared Bernstein and Ryan Grim, thank you both for joining
GRIM: Thank you.
BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, why Republicans want you to think the president
is a stick in the mud.
And in the Rewrite, the idiotic things said about guns, and they`re
never said by liberals. This is a one-sided case of idiocy, coming up.
O`DONNELL: A user on Reddit posted this picture, claiming it was left
for a waiter friend in California. It reads, "as a direct result of
Proposition 30 and President Obama`s insisting that I pay my fair share in
taxes, I find that I must cut back on discretionary spending and
gratuities. I wish it didn`t have to be this way for both of us."
Of course, it doesn`t have to be this way. The cheap rich person who
left that card instead of a tip could surely afford to eat at home, given
that the person must have an income above 400,000 dollars in order to be
affected by the income tax increase that President Obama supported.
The crazy things Republicans are now saying about guns put them in
very sharp disagreement not just with President Obama, but with their hero,
President Reagan, and President George W. Bush. And that is next in the
O`DONNELL: In the Rewrite tonight, another episode of Republicans Say
The Craziest Things and Democrats Don`t. What you are about to hear are
utterly insane things said by elected Republicans and a former Republican
attorney general. And this is not a case of both sides doing it. There
are no equally insane statements made by elected liberals in this country.
When political media coverage tries to strike a neutral tone by saying
both sides do it, in this case that kind of attempt at neutrality actually
produces a lie. Both sides are not saying insane things about gun rights
and the Second Amendment.
A newly elected crazy Republican congressman, Steve Stockman, issued a
press release about impeaching the president if he issues executive orders
involving firearms. The best you could say about Stockman is that he
issued an idiotic press release in order to get national media attention.
Otherwise, how would anyone know he is a congressman, again? He served one
two-year term back in the `90s.
The worst you could say about Stockman is that he issued an idiotic
press release because he believes every word of the press release.
Another Texas Republican, State Legislator Steve Toth, is proposing
legislation that would make any federal law banning semiautomatic firearms
or limiting the size of gun magazines unenforceable in Texas. His proposed
Firearm Protection Act would make it a felony to enforce a federal assault
weapons ban in Texas.
So he would be sending out Texas Rangers to arrest FBI agents or ATF
agents or anyone who tried to enforce such a federal law. This, of course,
could never happen and is patently unconstitutional. And again, the best
thing that can be said about Steve Toth is that he is introducing his
idiotic bill to get media attention, which we have just granted him. And
the worst thing that can be said about Steve Toth is that he is introducing
his idiotic bill, because he does not know that it is an unconstitutional
And here in New York State, a crazy Republican said some crazy stuff
about the tough new gun control bill that Governor Cuomo just got through
the legislature. Republican legislator Steve Katz really hates the ban on
magazines that would hold more than seven bullets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE KATZ (R), STATE ASSEMBLYMAN: I come to Albany proudly and
voluntarily as a citizen legislator. I leave my wife and three young
daughters home alone for days at a time to represent my constituents up
here, far from home. After what happened to the young mother in
Loganville, Georgia, who defended her two young children against an
intruder, this bill will turn me into a criminal, because you can bet that
before I leave to do the people`s work, there will be more than seven
bullets in the magazine in my wife`s firearm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK, well, how about not taking a job where you have to
leave your wife and three young daughters home alone for days at a time?
How about that? OK, a couple of things here. First of all, the young
mother in Loganville, Georgia, he was just talking about used a simple
revolver against an intruder, a revolver that held only six bullets. She
didn`t need seven or more than seven.
Her bullets hit the intruder in the neck, face and torso, producing
four exit wounds. So she is not the case to use to prove why you need more
than seven bullets in your gun. And if you, Mr. Katz, really are leaving
your wife and three daughters in a place where they will not be safe
without a gun that fires more than seven bullets, then you should not be
leaving them there. You shouldn`t be going to Albany to give stupid
speeches in opposition to bills that are going to pass, no matter what you
How can you possibly be risking the lives of your wife and children in
order to stand in front of that microphone in Albany, and say those things
that have absolutely no effect on this outcome of the legislation being
considered. How can you do that?
What a horribly irresponsible thing to do as a husband and a father.
Or you are, in fact, a responsible husband and father, and you are just
lying about the need for more than seven bullets in your wife`s gun. You
are just using your wife and daughters for sleazy political effect.
A Republican who should know better is former Reagan administration
Attorney General Edwin Meese. He too, today, is actually saying that
President Obama could be impeached for issuing executive orders on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So if the president unilaterally overrides the
Second Amendment by executive order, would this be Constitutional? Would
it be legal? And how should Congress respond?
EDWIN MEESE, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, it would not be legal.
It would not be Constitutional. And indeed, if he tried to override the
Second Amendment in any way, I believe it would be an impeachable offense.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So what should congress do then?
MEESE: Then it would be up to the Congress to take action, such as
looking into it to see if he has really tried to override the Constitution
itself, in which case it would be up to them to determine what action they
should take, perhaps even to the point of impeachment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, we`ll watch this one closely.
MEESE: Yes, indeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK, I know what you`re thinking. You are thinking how
many executive orders did President Reagan issue? And the answer is 381,
with Ed Meese as his attorney general. And I know some of you are
thinking, who is that asking the questions? And the answer is I have no
And some of you are thinking, who the heck is Ed Meese? Well, he is a
well educated man who went from Oakland High School to college at Yale and
law school at Berkeley. He was very close to Ronald Reagan before and
during the Reagan presidency. Reagan made him attorney general. But Ed
Meese was forced to resign that office in scandal, back in the era when the
words Republican and attorney general almost always equaled scandal.
President Nixon`s Republican attorney general having been the first
and only attorney general who was convicted of a crime and had to serve
time for it.
While Ed Meese was attorney general, he became one of the very few and
very lucky guys who got to watch a lot of porn and get paid for it. In
1984, Reagan appointed Attorney General Meese to head the presidentially
created Attorney General`s Commission on Pornography, which meant that for
two years, Ed Meese got to look at gay porn, straight porn, all the porn he
could possibly get his hands on, which, as attorney general, was a lot of
And after drowning in porn for two years, and getting paid for it, Ed
Meese issued an almost 2,000 page report that reached this conclusion:
"although the evidence may be slim, we nevertheless now know enough to
conclude that pornography does represent a clear and present danger to
American public health."
Now, that is public health, not personal health, because Ed Meese is
81 years old and still going strong after we know he really buried himself
in porn for a minimum of two years without hurting his personal health.
And that was before a single pornographic image was available on the
Internet. So Ed Meese has played the clown before his current descent into
doing interviews on right-wing websites.
For some reason, Ed Meese did not get around to mentioning to his
right-wing website interviewer that the president he worked for and
worshipped, and the president who is worshipped by that right-wing --
right-wing website, Ronald Reagan, was in favor of an assault weapons ban.
And if it seems like Texas Republicans have always been crazy on this
subject, there is this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do think we
ought to extend the Assault Weapons Ban, and was told the fact the bill was
never going to move, because Republicans and Democrats were against the
Assault Weapons Ban, people in both parties.
I believe that law abiding citizens ought to be able to own a gun. I
believe in background checks at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that
guns don`t get in the hands of people that should not have them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And how many Texas Republicans thought that that Texas
Republican should be impeached for saying he was in favor of an assault
weapons ban, and that he was in favor of background checks at gun shows?
How many? Yeah. Republicans have gotten a lot crazier since then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You and your staff are too insular, that you
don`t socialize enough.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like Speaker Boehner
personally. And when we went out and played golf, we had a great time.
But that didn`t get a deal done in 2011. Now if the American people feel
strongly about these issues and push hard and reward folks who are trying
to find common ground, I think you will see behavior in Congress change.
And that will be true whether I`m the life of the party or a stick in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: On November 15th, President Obama hosted a screening of
the movie "Lincoln." "Politico" reports that President Obama invited
Republicans John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Lamar Alexander, Tom Coburn,
Olympia Snowe. They all declined to attend.
President Obama has invited John Boehner to six state dinners.
Boehner declined all six times. Boehner did accept President George Bush`s
invitation to a state dinner for the meaningless Queen Elizabeth.
President Obama invited Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to two state
dinners, and an event celebrating the NCAA champion basketball team from
the University of Kentucky, McConnell`s home state. McConnell declined all
And after the 2010 midterm election, President Obama invited all newly
elected members of Congress, Republicans included, to the White House for a
reputation. Less than half of the freshmen Republicans attended.
Joining me now, "Huffington Post" editorial director Howard Fineman.
Howard, in my experience, this socializing thing is the most overrated
legislative strategy imaginable. I have never seen it matter, in any way
at all. If booze could do this, it would have fixed a lot of things, a lot
easier, a long time ago.
HOWARD FINEMAN, "THE HUFFINGTON POST": Yes. And of course, booze
consumption in D.C. I think exceeds that of any other jurisdiction in the
country, with the possible exception of Las Vegas. Well, there was a time
-- there was a day, there was place when I think personal relationships did
And I think when you were on the Hill, when I was covering you on the
Hill, it was kind of the end of that era. It started not to matter around
that time. One thing that has happened now, Lawrence, is that members of
Congress spend all their time raising money. They don`t even talk to each
other. We had a piece in "the Huffington Post" about directives to new
members from the Democratic Campaign Committee. It said for you new
members, be sure to set aside four hours a day for fund raising.
So that is one thing that they`re doing. The second thing, as you
point out, and as White House officials told me also, the Republicans have
no interest in having a personal relationship with the president, as you
showed with those graphics. They haven`t tried to figure out how to deal
with him on a personal level. They see him as an enemy they want to keep
at a distance.
The other thing here is Washington has changed and politics has
changed. Barack Obama has I think 26 million Facebook friends. Those are
more important than a few friends on Capitol Hill. That is 25 million.
That is the way politics operates now.
I think in the second term -- and we report this in a series in we`re
doing on "the Huffington Post" called the Road Forward -- I think the
president, as he showed in the debt ceiling -- excuse me, in the fiscal
debate on taxes, is going to take a more publicly confrontational approach
to the Republicans. He is saying, you are going to treat me like this, I`m
going to treat you like this; go ahead, make my day.
I think you are going to see on gun control, on debt ceiling, on
everything down the road, public pressure from the president rather than
wasting his time on events that the Republicans don`t even want to come to
at the White House.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, Howard, my experience in the Senate in the `80s and
`90s was simply that -- well, the big difference was that opponents treated
each other much more respectfully. They did oppose what each other were
trying to do. But they didn`t try to use tricky tactics. They were very
open about it, honest about it. They let each other know well ahead of
They wouldn`t try to block every maneuver in parliamentary terms. But
on anything important, I never saw anybody get a vote out of friendship or
out of socializing.
FINEMAN: Yes, I think that`s right. I think there were times back
then when somebody was allowed to make his or her case on that basis. But
if it was --
FINEMAN: You know what I`m saying? They could come to the office and
make the case, and they would be listened to respectfully. But if it was a
matter of principle, or more important, if it was a matter of supreme
importance to the home state of that senator, forget it. And that`s true
now everywhere. And that`s the way -- and we`re not going back. This is
politics by ambush. This is the way it`s going to work from here on out.
O`DONNELL: Howard Fineman gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thank you very
FINEMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.
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