March 7, 2013
Guests: Dianne Feinstein, Sarah Weddington, Cecile Richards, Tom Udall, Chris Van Hollen
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Drone ranger!
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. America is the land of liberty. People
born here get the greatest, most well-guarded rights in the world, and
there`s nothing I`m prouder of. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness is what America is all about.
And so we have debates, debates about the most central questions, these
questions, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And those words
are the ones that Jefferson gave us. Well, tonight, we go after those
questions, starting with the question, as out there as it may be, does the
United States government have the right to target an American here in
America with a drone strike?
We have a great person to address that question, Senator Dianne Feinstein,
chair of the United States Senate Committee on Intelligence.
Anyway, late this afternoon -- before we get started -- John Brennan was
confirmed to be the next head of the CIA. The final vote was pretty
strong, 63 to 34. Brennan`s nomination reignited debate, of course, about
the use of drones against American citizens overseas.
And then Senator Rand Paul added a wrinkle. He wanted to know, can the
government kill Americans here on U.S. soil? Well, last night, he staged
an epic, nearly 13-hour filibuster on the Senate floor to raise alarms
about the possibility.
Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that Paul`s scenario
was entirely hypothetical, would only be possible under, quote,
"extraordinary circumstances," well, such as after Pearl Harbor or the 9/11
That did not satisfy Senator Paul. Let`s take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: The very specific question we`re asking is,
does the president believe he has the authority to kill Americans who are
not engaged in combat in America with targeted drone strikes? And I think
the answer is no, but they haven`t given us that answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, today White House spokesman Jay Carney said the attorney
general sent Paul`s letter (SIC) a new letter -- sent Senator Paul`s office
a new letter answering that question. Let`s listen to the comment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This is from the letter. Quote,
"Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an
American not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer is no." The
answer to that question is no. And that is signed -- that is a letter that
is signed by the attorney general and was submitted to Senator Paul and his
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, finally, this afternoon, Rand Paul, the senator, said he
was satisfied with the administration`s response. Let`s listen to Paul.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Hurray! For 13 hours yesterday, we asked them that question. And
so there is a result and a victory. Under duress and under public
humiliation, the White House will respond and do the right thing. So now,
after 13 hours of filibuster, we`re proud to announce that the president is
not going to kill unarmed Americans on American soil.
My next question would be why did it take so long? Why is it so hard? And
why would a president so jealously guard power that they were afraid to say
this? But I am glad, and I think that answer does -- that question -- the
answer does answer my question.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Senator Feinstein, thank you for joining us from Capitol Hill.
Was that a reasonable demand by your colleague, Senator Paul, or is this
sort of a built-up story, built up by him, hyped up?
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIR: Well, I think
it`s built up. I think it`s hyped up. I think it`s cleared up. It was
cleared up yesterday when Senator Cruz asked the question in the Judiciary
And you know, it can be a complicated question. When it`s reduced down to
the basic simple fact of what (ph) it was said, the answer is clearly no.
And no drone is going to be used in the United States against an American
citizen walking down a street or sitting in a cafe.
And you know, and then there was a stupid example of a drone being used
against Jane Fonda. I mean, I don`t think this is befitting the Senate
floor. Having said that, clearly, Senator Paul got the answer in writing
signed by the attorney general, which is very definitive.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, here`s your colleague, John McCain. He took to the
Senate floor today and attacked Senator Paul, saying he`s giving credence
to people who fear the government, that fear that the government is out to
get them, sort of the black helicopter crowd. Let`s watch your other
colleague, John McCain, in action here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: To somehow allege or infer that the
president of the United States is going to kill somebody like Jane Fonda,
or someone who disagrees with the policies, is a stretch of imagination
which is, frankly, ridiculous.
We`ve done a -- I think, a disservice to a lot of Americans by making them
believe that somehow, they`re in danger from their government. They`re
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Do you think, Senator, that technology -- and you and I have
grown up with the dynamic, I mean, almost unbelievable exponential growth
in what mankind can do with technology...
MATTHEWS: Is that playing to the paranoia in people, they think if we have
the capability, we`re going to use it against average citizens who are of a
different political persuasion, for example? Is that why the far right is
FEINSTEIN: Well, I think the drone is a new technology. In some respects,
it`s the perfect assassination weapon. It can see from 17,000, 20,000 feet
up in the air. It is very precise. It can knock out a room in a building,
if it`s armed. It`s a very dangerous weapon.
Right now, we have a problem. There are all these nations that want to buy
these armed drones. I am strongly opposed to that. We have no regulation
of drones in the United States in their commercial use. You can see drones
some day hovering over the homes of Hollywood luminaries, violating
FEINSTEIN: This question has to be addressed. And we need rules of
operation on the border, by police, by commercial use, and also by military
and intelligence use.
So this is now a work in progress. We are taking a look at it on the
Intelligence Committee, trying to draft some legislation. The
administration is looking at a rules playbook as to how these won`t be used
and how they will be used.
FEINSTEIN: So it`s a very complicated subject of new technology, and I
think we have to take a pause and get it right.
MATTHEWS: Well, it`s great to have you on, Senator Dianne Feinstein, who
chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. Thank you so much for joining
Now more on the drones and Ran Paul`s epic filibuster. Eugene Robinson`s a
columnist for "The Washington Post" and also an MSNBC political analyst.
And the great thing about having you on, Gene, is you know Washington
theater. You know how -- you`ve seen "Mr. Smith" a thousand times...
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
MATTHEWS: ... like most of us. You know how this is done. Did Paul score
a big point on the right, or even across the country, by standing out there
for 13 hours in a real filibuster?
ROBINSON: You know, I think he did. And look, my column for tomorrow is
first and probably only column I`ll ever write that`s kind of complimentary
to Rand Paul, in that I think he did a service by making us focus on
drones, by making us focus on this new technology for all the reasons that
Senator Feinstein enumerated.
ROBINSON: This is a -- this is a -- they`re very precise. They`re very
deadly. She called it the perfect assassination weapon, and that`s kind of
what it is.
ROBINSON: And even if you -- if it`s ridiculous to think that a president
of the United States is going to assassinate a citizen on U.S. soil with
this technology, even if that`s far-fetched, if it served to -- if raising
that question served to focus us on what`s happening...
ROBINSON: ... not what`s going to happen, but what`s happening now, on the
fact that there are reasons to use these things domestically...
MATTHEWS: ... as a columnist and an expert on politics in this city -- are
you concerned that we have to have this kind of debate publicly, that there
is a possibility somewhere out there on the edge that -- tough -- not going
to say he did it, but somebody on the pretty far right, like Dick Cheney,
who`s pushed waterboarding and things there -- will push this thing that
far? Do you think it`s possible that a Jane Fonda could be targeted even
by the most right-wing American politician we can imagine?
ROBINSON: I don`t think anybody is going to target Jane Fonda. I don`t
MATTHEWS: Or any American...
ROBINSON: I don`t think that`s going to -- but I...
MATTHEWS: Unless they`re carrying a gun.
ROBINSON: There are police departments across the country that have filed
applications to be able to fly drones for surveillance, or for whatever.
ROBINSON: We had that situation in -- outside of Los Angeles the other
week, where the rogue cop was -- you know, had killed all these people.
ROBINSON: There were -- you know, potentially, you could have used a drone
to do surveillance there, and if you decided the cabin wasn`t approachable
and that he was putting lives in danger...
MATTHEWS: Well, what would be -- what would be the...
ROBINSON: ... would police departments have wanted to have the option...
MATTHEWS: ... technology? What would be wrong with using that technology,
rather than a bomb thrown in the window?
ROBINSON: Good question. Good question.
MATTHEWS: We`ve had experience in Powelton Village in Philadelphia, by the
ROBINSON: Exactly. Right.
MATTHEWS: And they blew up a whole bock.
ROBINSON: Philadelphia, as usual, ahead of its time.
MATTHEWS: Yes, but -- but in all seriousness, do you think there`s a
difference in -- why is using the drone worse than, say, smoking out the
house or someone killing the guy?
ROBINSON: Well, it`s killing the guy. And there is a certain antiseptic,
creepy, at-a-distance quality to...
MATTHEWS: I know. Stand back weapons.
ROBINSON: ... drone warfare that I just think we need to deal with. We`re
going to use them in various ways, and we need to figure it out.
MATTHEWS: I think you`re right. And I think Hemingway used to write about
that. It`s tougher to be an infantryman than a tank guy because you have
to do the walking into the fear, physically walk into it.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, take a look at this point Senator Lindsey made --
Lindsey Graham said. He made it today, actually, about the Republicans who
joined with Senator Paul in that filibuster yesterday. Let`s listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: To my Republican colleagues, I
don`t remember any of you coming down here, suggesting that President Bush
was going to kill anybody with a drone. You know? I don`t even remember
the harshest critics of the -- of our -- of President Bush on the
Democratic side -- they had a drone program back then. So what is it all
of a sudden that this drone program has gotten every Republican so spun
To my party, I`m a bit disappointed that you no longer apparently think
we`re at war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: You know, this is the fascinating thing about the right wing.
And people watching this show are students of it, maybe endangered (ph) of
it. But you have the neocon people like Lindsey Graham and John McCain,
who are ready at the snap of the fingers to go to war.
MATTHEWS: It`s always -- that`s the first solution, Let`s go to war. They
always have one ready. And then you have the very conservative, old Pat
Buchanan breed, of people like Rand Paul, who are very suspicious of our
power being used for any purpose besides basic national defense.
ROBINSON: Yes. Right. That`s a split in the Republican Party, and
they`re going to have to deal with that. But -- but -- but the other thing
he was driving at, I think, is -- look, I personally, like a lot of
Democrats, I guess -- I have confidence -- I know that President Obama
thinks about the use of drones, and I know that he and -- I have confidence
in him and...
MATTHEWS: Suppose Cheney were president right now.
ROBINSON: ... Eric Holder...
MATTHEWS: Just suppose...
MATTHEWS: ... Cheney were president right now.
MATTHEWS: Right now.
ROBINSON: He`s only going to be president for another three-and-a-half
years. Others are going to follow. And unless we kind of think about what
sort of limits, if any, we want to put on the us of drones...
MATTHEWS: You remember Cheney`s speech about the shadowlands and the gray
areas of the world and the hallways and the back halls and...
MATTHEWS: He talks like that.
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m glad we had -- my son, Michael, has been tough on me
on this. He`s a very civil libertarian guy. I`ve now become less of a
skeptic. I think that Rand Paul probably did something good for the
country in the last two days, and I`m sure he hates to hear me say that.
ROBINSON: Well, he`s going to hate my column tomorrow!
MATTHEWS: Look, a broken clock is right twice a day...
ROBINSON: There you go.
MATTHEWS: ... as I`ve said before. Thank you. You can all remember that
one. Thank you, Eugene Robinson.
Coming up: If there`s one thing we learned from Rand Paul yesterday is that
senators want to filibuster, they ought to stand up and talk in the old
way. Jimmy Stewart, get out there and talk. He did it for 13 hours. But
the Republicans have filibustered President Obama`s choice for the D.C.
court of appeals, and they did yesterday even without doing anything. They
didn`t have to do a thing.
Up next: Hand it to Arkansas. It now has the most restrictive abortion law
in the country on the books, at least. Republicans, of course, passed a
law setting a limit down there at 12 weeks, when a fetal heartbeat can be
heard. Well, this is because some on the right feel the country isn`t
moving fast enough to ban abortions. Maybe that`s because most people are
pro-choice, and the numbers prove it.
And President Obama followed up his dinner with Republicans last night with
the 12 of them with a lunch today with a very important guy, Paul Ryan,
who`s chair of the Budget Committee. Is it possible the Republicans have
decided that opposing the president at all costs is no longer worth the
"Let Me Finish" tonight with how Republicans and Democrats can actually
compromise. It`s doable.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, no surprises here. Hillary Clinton`s leading the pack for
president in 2016. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
According to a new Quinnipiac poll, Secretary Clinton would beat New Jersey
governor Chris Christie by 8 points, 45-37. She`d beat Congressman Paul
Ryan by 12, 50-38, and against Senator Marco Rubio, Hillary`s lead is 16,
50 to 34.
Hillary`s head-to-head poll numbers against those three Republicans --
Christie, Ryan and Rubio -- are far stronger than fellow Democrats, by the
way. Joe Biden and Andrew Cuomo trail. We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. There they go again. Republicans in
Arkansas this time yesterday overturned their Democratic governor`s veto
and passed what will be the country`s most restrictive abortion law, the
Human Heartbeat Protection Act, it`s called, which bans most abortions
after a woman`s 12th week of pregnancy. And that`s three months before the
usual viability standard, and before some women even know they`re pregnant.
Governor Mike Beebe called the bill unconstitutional. And already, the
ACLU has planned to challenge the law in federal court.
Cecile Richards, of course, is president Planned Parenthood and Sarah
Weddington is the attorney who won the Roe v. Wade case back 40 years.
Here were some of her argument to legalize abortion at the time in the fall
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SARAH WEDDINGTON, ARGUED ROE V. WADE BEFORE SUPREME COURT: We are not here
to advocate abortion. We do not ask this court to rule that abortion is
good or dishonorable in any particular situation. We are here to advocate
that the decision as to whether or not a particular woman will continue to
carry or will terminate a pregnancy is a decision that should be made by
that individual, that, in fact, she has a constitutional right to make that
decision for herself.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Sarah, thank you for coming on, so much. I have great respect
for your historic role, of course. Let me ask you this. What does it mean
for a state to just all by itself, like a cowboy, go out there and say,
We`re going to cut the term down from six months to three months in which
you can have an abortion, you can make that decision?
What could they possibly attempt to do here, knowing it`ll be declared
WEDDINGTON: I think there are a number of things. One is, sometimes you
use an issue just to try to put together support for your position. It may
be that they`re just trying to start a movement, a parade as it were, of
other states to pass the same kind of law.
But if you look at the Roe versus Wade decision -- this is my copy with all
the judges` signatures -- it clearly says, No, you can`t do that. In fact,
yesterday in Idaho, there was a law that banned abortion basically after 20
weeks, and a court ruled that unconstitutional.
Now -- so first, it could be they`re just trying to get a parade going,
lead people. The country overwhelmingly does not agree with that. Second
is they may be thinking, Well, right now, this court would hold Roe --
would hold the Arkansas law unconstitutional, but what if there`s a new
president and some vacancies and we get some new people on the court?
Maybe they would approve it. And third...
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, right now -- where do you -- where do you stand
right now on Roberts or Kennedy, the deciding votes? Do you think they
might go with something as extreme as to cut the term in half where a woman
would be allowed to choose?
WEDDINGTON: I don`t see Kennedy doing that. Roberts, I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Yes. Well, let me go over to Cecile, my friend. Cecile, let me
ask you about this meaning to your cause, which is the whole question of
women`s health, and of course, reproductive rights. What does this mean?
What`s it going to say to your members, what`s it going to say to women out
there who -- most of whom are pro-choice, to hear that some state out there
is going out there sort of -- going out on its own and saying, We`re going
to just cut the time down. Hey, let`s make it three months.
CECILE RICHARDS, PRES., PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Well, I think...
MATTHEWS: Just out of nowhere. Where do they get this number from, three
months instead of six months?
RICHARDS: Well, look, I mean, Chris, what we`re seeing, you know, as you
said, this country was so clear in this last election, the biggest gender
gap ever in the history of Gallup polling, saying that people in this
country and particularly women do not want to go back.
You know, we -- Roe has been -- thanks to Sarah and a lot of other good
folks, Roe has been the law of the land for 40 years now, never had
The thing that is really frustrating is it`s not only attacks on a woman`s
right to make decisions about her pregnancy. The same politicians -- in
fact, the same politician in Arkansas, is introducing a bill to end women`s
ability to get birth control at Planned Parenthood.
RICHARDS: So it`s a much bigger assault.
And I think women, frankly, are -- are sick and tired of being the target
MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about politicians, Sarah.
I know you`re an attorney. I don`t know what your politics are, but maybe
you`re a Democrat, maybe you`re a Republican. But here is the story. The
Republican Party still holds to the fact that its latest platform, it`s
very specific on the topic of abortion. It reads -- quote -- "faithful to
the self-evident truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we
assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a
fundamental individual right to life, which cannot be infringed. We
support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation
to make clear that 14th Amendment`s protections apply to unborn children."
Now, we can argue about the choice vs. the life argument. But here is a
national Republican Party saying in its latest document of belief that the
unborn child at any stage of development from conception on has the right
to property, has the right to life, and to liberty. What can they possibly
mean by those last two and what are they up to except to say you shouldn`t
have any abortions in this country and Arkansas is only being somewhere in
the middle here?
WEDDINGTON: Well, I`m going to tell every -- and, by the way, I`m a big
Democrat. I`m going to tell every group that I speak to about what
Arkansas has done and what the Republican platform has done, because every
time this issue has been presented to the voters where a legislative
mandate to make life begin at conception, the Constitution says all persons
born or naturalized, every time you present that to the public, they say
RICHARDS: That`s right.
WEDDINGTON: And part of that is because so many couples rely...
MATTHEWS: Even Alabama.
WEDDINGTON: ... on in vitro fertilization.
WEDDINGTON: Sorry, go ahead.
RICHARDS: No, Sarah is exactly -- I was just going to say, you`re exactly
right. And we even saw the state of Mississippi, one of the most
conservative states in the country, overwhelmingly reject this kind of
And I think the sad thing is, Chris, this is not where most Republicans are
either. I feel like that the Republican Party is being held hostage by
some folks on the very, very furthest end of the spectrum of this issue.
And, frankly, the American people say...
MATTHEWS: I agree.
RICHARDS: ... we want to just get the economy going, get people back to
work, and for goodness sake, make sure women can have access to birth
control in this country. It`s fundamental.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, 70 percent -- you`re al -- both of you, although you may
both be Democrats and both be progressive, the fact is 70 percent of the
country agrees with you. Leave Roe v. Wade alone.
MATTHEWS: Anyway, no one can forget the comments during Todd Akin`s crazy
campaign last year that women who are victims of legitimate rape he called
it and can simply make their bodies prevent conception.
Akin lost a gimme election actually it was for him. And in Indiana Richard
Mourdock`s Senate campaign went belly up when he said a pregnancy resulting
from rape was God`s will. But incredibly Republicans keep talking about
George Congressman Phil Gingrey, a doctor and potential Senate candidate
next year, followed up on Akin`s assertions this January. Catch this. It
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. PHIL GINGREY (R), GEORGIA: I`m an OB-GYN doctor. I have been an OB-
GYN doctor for a long time, since 1975, and I have delivered lots of babies
and I know about these things.
It is true. We tell infertile couples all the time that are having trouble
conceiving because of not -- the woman not ovulating, just relax, drink a
glass of wine, and don`t be so tense and uptight because all that
adrenaline can cause you not to ovulate.
So he was partially right, wasn`t he? But the fact that a woman may have
already ovulated 12 hours before she is raped, you`re not going to prevent
a pregnancy there by a woman shutting anything down, because the horse has
already left the barn, so to speak.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, the reference -- this guy`s metaphors are beyond
MATTHEWS: I`m thinking of John Riggins talking to Justice Sandra Day
O`Connor, "Lighten up judge."
It`s like what -- let me go to you, Sarah, because you have the history
behind you. What do men talk about? They talk about rape. Why do
Republican men talk about rape? What is it in the water supply or the barn
leaving the dog or whatever this stuff is -- I can`t keep up with them.
Why are they talking about rape all the time? Your thoughts.
WEDDINGTON: Well, I have no idea, but there was a great cartoon during the
last election and it was a big button that said vote and it was a woman`s
finger on it saying we know how to shut them down. And that`s what
happened in the last election.
MATTHEWS: Well, who was the guy that said put an aspirin between your
knees and all this incredible -- Cecile, you know this stuff, too.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t you just tell them in the interest of political
success, stop talking?
RICHARDS: Well, Chris, you said it best at the end of the last election is
when someone asked you did the rape guy win and you have to ask which one,
you know it`s a disaster. And the fact that someone is still depending
Todd Akin who is running -- and this guy is running for the United States
Senate, this is...
MATTHEWS: Yes, Gingrey is one of the hot shots down in Georgia the
Democrats are praying to run against.
Anyway, Cecile, it`s always nice to have you on. I don`t think this is a
big threat. I have confidence in the Supreme Court.
Sarah, a great honor to have you on, as always.
WEDDINGTON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: I did know you were a Democrat. I was letting you explain that
to us instead, because you did work at the White House when I was there.
MATTHEWS: Next, Rand Paul brought up Adolf Hitler during -- another phrase
that should never be -- Adolf Hitler and rape -- during his filibuster
yesterday. And while the logic of the senator`s reference was tortured,
it`s a reference he`s made time and time again. And I have got an
explanation. It has to do with the gold standard and the Weimar Republic.
He`s a little off the loose end sometimes.
Anyway, this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL. Now to the "Sideshow."
Steve Colbert had some thoughts about the hoopla over the snowstorm in
Washington this week, the one here in D.C. and how it somehow got lumped in
with talk about spending cuts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re calling it the snowquester.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snowquester.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The snowquester.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Snowquester.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`re calling it snowquester, which I think is
great. Isn`t that cute?
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Of course, the word
snowquester is a combination of snow and the sequester. I think we should
name all of our weather events after what kind they are, plus whatever
people are talking about on television at the time.
COLBERT: Today, Washington is blanketed in the snowquester. Tomorrow, a
storm covers New York in drone-cicles.
COLBERT: Or a freak blizzardashian.
COLBERT: As we speak, Oklahoma is still suffering the effects of hope been
a Pope Bene-Drought XVI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: The snowquester was only one way to dub yesterday`s mishmash of
events. Rand Paul went with filiblizzard the commemorate both the
snowstorm and his 13 hours on the Senate floor.
As I told you yesterday, somewhere towards the beginning of that
filibuster, Rand Paul dropped a reference to Hitler.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Out of that chaos, Hitler was elected
democratically. They elected him out of this chaos.
The point isn`t that anybody in our country is Hitler. I`m not accusing
anybody of being that evil. I think it`s an overplayed and a misused
analogy, but what I am saying is that in a democracy you could some day
elect someone who is very evil. That`s why we don`t give the power to the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Senator Paul went on to say that he was by no means
comparing anyone in today`s politics to Hitler, of course, only warning of
what could happen down the line if we don`t cut government spending.
You may have been surprised to hear the warning that we`re somehow on the
road to Nazism, but here is the thing. Rand Paul and his here come Hitler
warnings have a long history together. Talking Points Memo kept track.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: What happened in Germany when the Weimar Republic printed up so much
money, you carried it around in wheelbarrows? There was a collapse and
they actually voted in a Hitler. You could get something like that in our
country if we`re not careful and vigilant.
The danger is, I think, runaway inflation where the money becomes
worthless. I fear more a time like the Weimar Republic in 1923, where the
Germans carried their money around in wheelbarrows.
The pictures in our history book, most people have seen them, money in
wheelbarrows, people burning their money for fuel, and out of that came
chaos and came Hitler.
Hitler was basically elected in his first election, but he was elected
because there was chaos. People actually democratically voted in a Hitler
and I worry about that again in our country. If the money is destroyed in
our country, could we get a time where a strong leader comes forward and
says, we just need security, I will make you safe, but just give me your
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Repetition is the mother of memory.
Anyway, Rand Paul`s obsession with 1920s Germany inflation -- German
inflation -- is probably rooted in his love of the gold standard. Fact
check, prices in the United States rose one-sixth of 1 percent in January,
hardly a call for more wheelbarrows.
Finally, representing the NRA without a rifle? You might think the NRA
would want its field representatives to be an ideal reflection of
responsible gun ownership here in the U.S. Well, that`s not quite the
situation for Richard D`Alauro, one of the NRA`s New York-based
Richard D`Alauro has been barred from owning and purchasing firearms since
last year, according to "The Daily News." Richard D`Alauro, the NRA`s
field representative for the city and its suburbs -- this is in the paper
today -- is forbidden from owning guns under an order of protection
stemming from a confrontation with his wife in their Long Island home.
At the time, the police confiscated 39 pistols, shotguns and weapons that
D`Alauro kept in the couple`s home. The judge continued an order of
protection against Richard D`Alauro for one year, banning him from owning
or purchasing firearms.
Well, Mr. D`Alauro, who pleaded guilty to a harassment charge, will
apparently get his 39 firearms back in October this year. His lawyer says
that it`s -- quote -- "of no significance whatever" that his client cannot
own a gun while representing the NRA. Hmm. You figure.
Up next, the one thing we learned from Rand Paul is if senators want to
filibuster, they ought to do it when they did -- the way he did it, talking
until you can`t talk anymore. He had to go to the bathroom, apparently.
And that`s ahead.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
SUE HERERA, CNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Sue Herera with your CNBC "Market
The Dow rises for a third straight day, moving further into record
territory. The S&P added two and the Nasdaq gained nine points. A report
on planned layoffs showed employers announced more than 55,000 job cuts in
February, up sharply from January. Meanwhile, applications for state
jobless benefits fell by 7,000 in the latest week. Economists had expected
And tomorrow we will get the February jobs report, which is expected to
show the unemployment rate falling to 7.8 percent with 160,000 jobs
That`s it from CNBC. We are first in business worldwide -- now back to
Chris and HARDBALL.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as
it takes until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our
Constitution is important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
That was, of course, Rand Paul. Began -- he began his epic filibuster, and
12 hours and 50 minutes later, there he is something of a hero. Here he is
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: I would go for another 12 hours, to try to break Strom Thurmond`s
record, but I have discovered that there are some limits to filibustering,
and I`m going to have to go take care of one of those in a few minutes
PAUL: Thank you very much for the forbearance, and I yield the floor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t know why he referenced Hitler. Now he`s
referencing Strom Thurmond.
Anyway, Senator Paul`s filibuster was old-school, the kind of performance
people imagine when they hear filibuster and think of Jimmy Stewart in of
course "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington."
But there was another filibuster that occurred yesterday as well in a very
different way. Without having to utter so much as a peep, Senate
Republicans were able to block President Obama`s nominee to the U.S. court
of Appeals Caitlin Halligan from receiving a vote even.
This silent filibuster is the flip side of Rand Paul`s talking filibuster.
And the practice has been vilified by both Democrats and Republicans. No
one likes it, apparently, but when you`re a majority -- or a minority,
actually, it`s a potent tool.
Senator Tom Udall pushed to end the silent filibuster at the end of this
Congress and is committed to filibuster reform. And Michael Steele, of
course, is always for reform. He`s the former chair of the Republican
National Committee and an MSNBC contributor.
Senator Udall, I applaud completely what you have tried to do. Explain if
you can why any decent person, including a progressive senator, would
support this stupid thing where any senator in the world can simply say,
tell the majority leader I think I`m going to filibuster, and there is
effectively a killing off of that legislation?
SEN. MARK UDALL (D), COLORADO: Chris, nobody should be able to support
that. That`s the basic idea, one senator holding up the whole show.
And I don`t think that`s what the American people want, and I don`t think
it`s what most senators want. I think what they want to see is, if you
have an objection, you have a statement, you have something to put out
there for the American people, you go down to the floor and do it, rather
than secretly block things and hold things up. And that`s why we have done
a talking filibuster.
MATTHEWS: So, what`s Harry Reid say? OK. You`re in Harry Reid`s office
Imagine you`re sitting with Harry Reid, the old pro. He speaks softly, but
he has got a big stick. He`s the boss. What does he say when you get in
there as the new -- new kid on the block and say this?
UDALL: Well, when we urged him to do this and he was for this and we were
moving down the road, he did the vote count, and he didn`t think we were
quite there. He didn`t think we had enough votes. It was his...
MATTHEWS: Did you have his vote?
UDALL: It was his conclusion.
MATTHEWS: Did you have his vote?
UDALL: He wanted to do this. He wanted to do this.
UDALL: He said he wanted to do this and
SEN. TOM UDALL (D), NEW MEXICO: -- for this and we were moving down the
road, he did the vote count and I didn`t think we were quite there. He
didn`t think we had enough votes --
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Did you have his vote?
UDALL: It was his conclusion. He wanted to do this. He wanted to do
this. He said he wanted to do this and he said he didn`t have enough votes
and that`s where we were.
But the idea is still a very good one and it was proven out in the two
situations you just talked about. Hooligan, secret, exception, behind the
scenes, people don`t realize that court needs four justices and she was
very well-qualified and she was deep sixed.
On the other hand, Rand Paul stepped up to the plate, made his point, got
some answers, and we got the Brennan nomination gone.
MATTHEWS: OK. Let me talk to Michael Steele.
It seems to me we have a very good system of checks and balances. To get
something passed, you have to get it through the House and through the
Senate and the president has to sign it. That`s enough.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: Yes.
MATTHEWS: But adding to that now is you have to have 60 votes in the
Senate, which means with neither party ever getting 60 votes, it makes
another hurdle and it makes government so much less efficient and the
public is demanding action. They`re not demanding stopping things.
STEELE: No, I agree with you. And I applaud the senator for his efforts
to try to open up the process to allow more of what Rand Paul did if the
senator really feels that strongly about a nomination or a particular
issue. When it comes to --
MATTHEWS: Well, we`ve just reached the physical limits about the potty
here. He had to go to the bathroom. It`s one way of saying, OK, you put
your (INAUDIBLE) and it worked.
STEELE: Right, no, 13 hours. He held -- actually I have to admit it was
pretty good political television to watch and to hear these individuals get
up and speak from Durbin to Rand to Cruz.
So that process I think exposed the side of the political expression that a
lot of Americans appreciate and, quite frankly, miss from the Jimmy Stewart
MATTHEWS: Yes, let me go back to the senator.
Mr. Udall, can you get this done? Are we going to get to the point where
you have to have a real filibuster, you can`t have any filibuster unless
it`s real? It has got to happen.
UDALL: I think we`re going to get there and I the reason I say, that you
should see the new members, the new senators who have just come on. They
are so frustrated with what`s happening now. They`re talking, many of
And some of the more senior senators are saying, you know, this is a bad
situation. We`ve got some real anger because the place isn`t working, and
I would hate to see a rule change in midstream, but we could see one with
this kind of reneging on deals we thought had been made.
MATTHEWS: Under the Budget Act, you get like one time a year when you`re
guaranteed a vote on reconciliation, right? Otherwise you`re never
guaranteed a vote on anything, right, Senator?
UDALL: Oh, no, you can -- you can get a lot of votes in the Senate. And
it`s done usually through agreements and through a negotiation do --
MATTHEWS: Unanimous consent.
UDALL: Unanimous consent and you can object and --
MATTHEWS: You have just made your point. If all 100 senators say you can
have a vote, otherwise you don`t get it.
MATTHEWS: Michael, what kind of way is it to run a country is that?
STEELE: It`s not a good way to run the country. I think you talked about
the silent filibuster. There`s a lot of concern as the senator noted that
a lot of the freshmen senators are frustrated by the process.
Here is the reality: it`s great to push back against the system and want to
reform it when you are in the majority, OK?
STEELE: But as Harry Reid noted, we could be in the minority in two years
and this is a tool, a powerful tool we would like to have as we saw them
MATTHEWS: Yes, but this guy, Senator Udall, you noticed is in the majority
and he`s trying to reduce the ultimate power --
STEELE: He`s trying to reduce the ultimate power, but harry Reid won`t let
it happen. And at the end of the day, you can bring the reforms to the
table. You asked the right question, where is Harry Reid on this? The
majority leadership is like we could be in the -- they`re always looking
MATTHEWS: You know what? You know I would like to see a vote on this,
Senator. I think a vote would be very healthy. Mr. Reid, the majority
leader, an admirable man in many ways, should have a vote. That`s how you
decide, whether you`re up or down on this.
Thank you very much. You`re a real reformer. Tom Udall, thanks for
And Michael Steele.
UDALL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: When we come back, we`re going to have more on these
progressives, they are applauding Rand Paul`s filibuster in our Web site,
by the way.
Up next, dinner with Republican senators, lunch with Paul Ryan today, and
he`s also joining us is Congressman Van Hollen who is also there today,
Chris Van Hollen. Have Republicans finally decided to sit down with the
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Big news. Another Democratic retirement in the U.S. Senate.
Senator Carl Levin, a great guy, Democrat from Michigan, says he won`t seek
re-election in 2014. Levin is the fourth Democrat to announce his
retirement this year following Iowa`s Tom Harkin, West Virginia`s Jay
Rockefeller, and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey. Like all these guys.
So, that means Democrats need to defend four more open seats as well as
seven seats in states that voted for Mitt Romney. Republicans need to net
six seats to win control of the Senate. It`s doable for the Republicans
And we`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
The great 19th century Republican kingmaker Mark Hanna once said, isn`t
there something we should look like we`re doing? And while last night,
President Obama and Republicans are certainly trying to do at least that.
Last night, the president met with a group of supposedly persuadable
Republicans to try to get something done. At least some of the senators
seemed to leave feeling hopeful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
REPORTER: Senator McCain, how`d the meeting go?
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Just fine. Great. Wonderful.
SEN. MIKE JOHANNS (R), NEBRASKA: I am more optimistic just from a personal
SEN. DAN COATS (R), INDIANA: It was serious. It was face-to-face, I
appreciate the president asking some of us to come over and talk to him,
and we got away from the politics of it.
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: It was very open, honest, sincere,
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think it was helpful and I think it`s
the way this country ought to operate and that is executive branch sitting
down with legislators, talking through issues. It was a very sincere
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
MATTHEWS: That`s hopeful I can say. Maybe it`s because the president`s
slipping poll numbers. Maybe it`s because some people actually really want
to get something done. Or maybe, like Mark Hanna, they just want to make
it look that way.
Whatever the reason today, President Obama continued his charm offensive,
lunching with former vice presidential candidate, Congressman Paul Ryan.
And, of course, joining him was Chris Van Hollen, who was the ranking
Democrat on the Budget Committee and he joins us right now.
So, you were there at this tripartite brunch or lunch. And tell me about
the president. What do you think he`s trying to get across?
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: Well, we had a good lunch, good
conversation, good meal. I think it was a good spirit. I think what the
president is trying to do is engage as many people as possible in this
dialogue, to try to move the ball forward. We`ve got a lot of big issues
we`ve got to tackle on the budget and, of course, on immigration reform and
other issues. But until we get out of this situation where we`re in now
where we`re going from one manufactured crisis to another, the country
cannot be at its full potential.
So, that`s what he`s trying to do, get moving.
MATTHEWS: As you see it, as a Democrat, what is the fight about? What is
-- when people say they are always fighting in Washington, there`s all of
this dysfunction, there`s all of this stuff, what is the fight?
VAN HOLLEN: The fight, when it comes to the budget, is what are our
priorities and our values? The document is filled with a bunch of numbers,
but those numbers say a lot about who we are.
And so, what the president says is that he wants to put together a budget
that grows the economy and strengthens the middle class. That means
getting rid of wasteful stuff, but it means investing important things like
education, research and development, infrastructure. And when it comes to
our seniors, it means meeting our commitment to our seniors, and doing it
in a fiscally responsible way.
So that means you`ve got to reduce the deficit. So the debate is over how
you do that. The president says everybody`s got to participate. So that
means we`ve got to make some targeted cuts.
But it also means we need to get revenue. And this time, revenue from
eliminating a lot of the tax breaks and tax loopholes that
MATTHEWS: Why do you --
VAN HOLLEN: -- very wealthy people.
MATTHEWS: How much money can you raise in revenue that would affect the
deficit? I mean, y have to raise so many billions of dollars. How can you
do it in reform without raising the rates?
VAN HOLLEN: Well --
MATTHEWS: That`s what I can`t understand.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I mean, the president has a plan on the table that says
for high-income earners, you still get to take a bunch of deductions, but
your total deductions are going to be capped at 28 percent value, right?
So, if you have mortgage interest deduction, you get to take it, but
instead of 39 cents on the dollar for someone in that tax category, you get
28 cents deduction on the dollar.
So, it limits the value of your deductions without taking them away.
VAN HOLLEN: That raises a substantial amount of money.
Getting rid of oil and gas subsidies. Getting rid of tax breaks for hedge
VAN HOLLEN: Those are other things you can do, Chris.
MATTHEWS: But how does that -- how does that -- you`ve got a liberal
Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker. People like George Miller and
members of the Black Caucus, are they going to be satisfied with some kind
of tax reform as a justification for then going after Medicare or Medicaid?
Will they ever accept the need to do the entitlements based on some
reasonable number of tax reforms?
I just don`t see them as commensurate.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I mean, the president is not going after Medicaid.
MATTHEWS: No, the president would like to do it.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, they do want to go after Medicaid and the Republican
House budget just wallops Medicaid. It did last time. It probably will do
On Medicare, we just have a difference in approach. We all recognize we
have to have savings in Medicare. Republicans want to transfer rising
health care costs and the risks on the backs of seniors.
The approach we want to take is the way we did in the Affordable Care Act.
You need to change the structure in Medicare. So there`s less incentive to
have higher bills, where nobody has an incentive to save costs to one where
you focus on the value of care instead of the volume in care.
So, there are important things you can do in Medicare without sticking
seniors with a higher --
MATTHEWS: So, you make this point about reasonable reform and entitlement
programs and the need for some kind of revenues to reform. I`ve heard all
of these arguments from the president. And you sit down with the
Republicans who are reachable or teachable.
What are they saying? Because they`re not saying yes.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, what they`ve been saying is you guys already got your
revenue in January.
MATTHEWS: The top 1 percent.
VAN HOLLEN: Right. Right.
But the universe didn`t begin on January 1st. We also did $1.5 trillion in
cuts over the last couple years by putting spending caps in place.
So what the president says is let`s look at the bipartisan commissions as a
model, right? They have a lot more revenue than we`ve raised already and
they have some additional cuts.
MATTHEWS: OK. You`re an expert. Do you think there`s a chance that in
this year, the two parties can get together, even if they have to go around
the Republican leadership and achieve some kind of grand deal?
VAN HOLLEN: I think there is a chance. There`s a chance if people are
willing to put the politics aside, focus on solutions and take that
balanced approach. And the public is overwhelming.
MATTHEWS: Well, we know it started this week. It started this week.
We`ll see how far you guys can go.
Anyway, thank you, Congressman Chris Van Hollen --
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be here (ph).
MATTHEWS: -- who`s my congressman.
And when we return, let me finish with why Republicans and Democrats
actually can compromise. It`s doable.
And you`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this:
We have been left in our time a great number system. It was developed by
Arab and Persian mathematicians living in India and transferred to Europe
in the Middle Ages. It`s a wonderful system, actually, so much easier than
Roman numerals with its X`s and I`s and D`s and C`s and M`s.
What`s great about our number system is the ease with which you can haggle
-- like in an Arab market place. The guy says the item will cost you $9,
you say $7, he says take it for $8 -- beautiful!
So the Republicans want to cut spending. The Democrats say they want to
raise taxes, especially on the well-off. They both say they want to cut
the deficit, stop adding to the national debt.
So, fortunately, we have a perfect numbers system to do it.
The conservatives say the federal government should only spend $1 out of $5
produced by the economy each year. One dollar in five. Conservatives also
say the federal government shouldn`t run a deficit. Simple, then, raise $1
in $5 in taxes, or stop complaining about the deficit.
Same for the Democrats. The math works just as well for them. If they
want the government to spend more, they should back a revenue level up to
So if both sides want to bargain, if they really want to get to a solution,
here it is: both sides have to agree to: (a), to tax enough to pay for the
government they believe in; and (b), limit the size of government to the
level they`re willing to tax to pay for.
Go ahead, the number system is fine, perfect for haggling -- and you don`t
have to head over to the Jefferson Hotel to do it.
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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