June 21, 2013
Guests: John Feehery, Wayne Besen, Laura Berman, Steve Israel, Margie
Omero, Nicole Lamoureux
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Mitch`s pitch.
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this. The propaganda war for 2014 has begun.
The man who wanted to destroy the Obama presidency is out there with the
first big firebomb of misinformation. It`s about the IRS problem.
Mitch McConnell, who set his heart publicly on limiting President Obama to
a single term, is now declaring that the -- well, he`s declaring there was
a coordinated campaign out there out of the White House to use the levers
of government to target conservatives and stifle speech.
This language, which sounds like a RICO prosecution, is based on nothing.
There`s no evidence of any White House involvement with the actions over
there at the IRS. If there was, don`t you think Mr. McConnell, the Senate
leader, would be dancing in the moonlight? Don`t you?
If there were a scintilla of evidence that the president or one of his
people, even by the current standards of loose talk, was involved in this
story, do you really believe that the head of the Republican Party in the
Senate wouldn`t be using it to nail the president into a political coffin
right now? Give me a break.
This is a cheap charge, the kind a politician makes when he`s out of
political ammo, and all he has to throw at the other side is his shoe.
Joy Reid is managing editor of TheGrio. She`s an MSNBC contributor, of
course. And John Feehery is a Republican strategist joining us tonight.
Thank you. I got (ph) you.
Let`s take a look at this right now. McConnell spoke to conservatives
today at the American Enterprise Institute. His speech was a rabble-
rousing 25-minute unloading on the Obama administration entitled "The
Continuing Assault on the 1st Amendment," focusing heavily on the IRS.
Well, before we show you the tape, let`s first run through some facts about
the IRS controversy. Here`s what we know and everyone else knows. We know
that no conservative group that was scrutinized for its political activity
had its tax-exempt status denied -- not a one, according to the IG report,
and that`s nonpartisan.
We also know that it was a Republican IRS manager, a man who happened to be
a Republican, who was in charge of the division in question here. And it
was a screening manager under him, under the Republican, who came up with
the improper targeting criteria on his own. We know this thanks to
transcripts released by Representative Elijah Cummings from the interviews
that he had with those people at the IRS.
And like I said, all the evidence to date shows the White House has no
involvement in the IRS controversy. That didn`t hold back McConnell.
Take a listen here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: What matters isn`t whether
they were doing it in Washington or Cincinnati. That`s not what matters --
or Duluth. What matters is the culture of intimidation, the culture of
intimidation this president and his allies created around any person or
group that spoke up for conservatism.
So no, I don`t believe that the president ever picked up the phone and told
somebody over at IRS to slow-walk these applications or audit anybody. But
the truth is, he didn`t have to. He didn`t have to do that. The message
was clear enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me go to you on this, John. I don`t know where you stand,
but I have been -- I cover the news every day here. I read the papers in
the morning starting at 7:00 in the morning. I read everything. And yet I
looked at -- I had Elijah Cummings come on here. He`s a great gentleman.
He`s ranking member on that committee. He has given us all the evidence
he`s been able to collect, maybe not enough, but everything he`s been able
And of course, we`ve listened to everything Darrell Issa, the chair of the
committee -- and I listened to it and I listened to all the commentary, and
I have yet to hear one piece of evidence that anybody from the president`s
campaign, anybody from his team or camp, broadly defined, anyone, male,
female, had anything to do with the screw-up over at the IRS.
So why does McConnell now blame him for that, as if he was somehow a
puppeteer sending the messages, you know -- you know, Doug Shulman,
Republican holdover, and Lois Lerner and the other -- all these other
people, they`re all totally nonpartisan people. In fact, a lot of them,
we`re learning now, happen to be a Republican, at least the main guy was.
Why would anybody accuse the president of intimidating them into screwing
the right wing? What evidence have you got?
JOHN FEEHERY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, let me -- let me say this...
MATTHEWS: Well, how about answer the question first. Let`s start with the
-- is this -- I know this is a heat-chasing show. I love heat. But let`s
start with facts. Do we have a fact of a connection?
FEEHERY: Well, as Mitch McConnell himself said in the speech, there`s no
evidence that the president called over to the IRS, but...
MATTHEWS: He called -- let me go to the further quote so you`re fully
MATTHEWS: He talked about it being a coordinated campaign that led to this
happening, coordinated to use the levers of power from the president.
Now, what are you saying here? The president was involved in the IRS mess
FEEHERY: Well, I think what Mitch McConnell is saying -- and Mitch
McConnell -- let`s -- let`s back up on Mitch McConnell. He`s been a fierce
advocate for the 1st Amendment since the beginning of (ph) campaign finance
reform. He`s fought against the idea of cracking down on political
parties. He believes firmly in the idea that we should have a political
system that has a strong political party system.
I do think that he believes, and I tend to agree with him, that the
president has done his best to demonize his opponents, especially going
after the Koch brothers, going after the people that he has -- all of these
Tea Party groups. And I think McConnell has said that, you know, with the
IRS and all these other groups...
MATTHEWS: Mitch McConnell is accusing someone on the other side of
demonizing? Mitch McConnell is the most personal attacker I`ve seen in
politics. It`s always about Obama. It`s about getting rid of Obama. It`s
about exterminating him from Washington. That`s how McConnell operates.
It`s always personal.
Just again, is there any personal connection? Draw your line, connect the
dots any way you want, between the president and his people and these
bureaucrats -- I`ll use that term neutrally -- over at the IRS?
Why would these bureaucrats respond to anybody? They`re in there for life.
They`re headless nails. Why would they do what the president said in some
FEEHERY: We have plenty of evidence, and this has come out, of
intimidation of people asking these...
MATTHEWS: OK, when were they intimidated? When were they intimidated?
FEEHERY: Well, I don`t have the...
MATTHEWS: You said they were intimidated.
FEEHERY: Well, we have plenty of evidence. This came up at the hearings,
where the -- these groups were -- were asked about their...
MATTHEWS: No, no, no.
FEEHERY: ... personal beliefs...
MATTHEWS: You said that the IRS officials were intimidated by the
FEEHERY: No, no. I said the IRS was intimidating these groups.
MATTHEWS: Well, why did they do what they did?
FEEHERY: I imagine that -- I don`t know why they did what they did. My
MATTHEWS: That`s where I want to go. You don`t know. And it`s fair. I
don`t know, either. I don`t know why they screwed up. They could be
stupid. They could be trying to do something that`s very hard to do and --
delineate when does political activity end in one of these organizations,
and when does propagandizing stop?
Let me go back to Joy. I do think it`s a hard job. I`ve been thinking
about it today. I`ve been reading through this in the Politico today.
It`s hard. Your job -- you`re paid GS-12, whatever. You`re a smart
person. You are trying to figure out whether a group that clearly has a
political intention has crossed the line into what is illegal behavior in a
tax-exempt group. You have to figure out a lot of things, maybe who gives
I don`t know what you figure out because you can`t run out and do an
investigation out in the street, chasing after them. You`ve got to go with
the paperwork at hand. Go ahead.
JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know...
MATTHEWS: I don`t think there`s any evidence these people did anything
more than trying to do their jobs and messing up. Your thoughts.
REID: Yes. And Chris, you know, and I think you got to a lot of the
points that I would have made. But look, Barack Obama does have something
to do with this, and it is this.
Barack Obama`s election created this intense reaction on the right, such
that a Tea Party was born that hated bail-outs so much when Barack Obama
was president -- didn`t really mind them when George W. Bush started them -
- but their reaction was intense such that you had not 1,700, which was
sort of the average number of 501(c)(4)s applying for tax-exempt status,
now you had something like 3,750 of these groups coming at the IRS, whose
sole purpose was to rinse Barack Obama out of the fabric of the United
Go back and remember what the Tea Party was. Remember when they were
marching, what was on those signs. He`s a Kenyan. He`s a fraud. He`s a
witch doctor. That`s what these organizations were. Now, you`re an IRS
MATTHEWS: That sounds like demonizing him.
REID: This was what...
MATTHEWS: That`s what John says the president does. You`re sounding like
that Mitch McConnell actually demonizes people.
REID: This is -- right. And Mitch McConnell said his top priority -- we
were in the midst of a recession, a depression nearly, and his top priority
was to deny Barack Obama a second term before he had even completed one
fourth of his first term.
So you had a Republican Party whose young guns in the House met on
inauguration eve to plot the total full-spectrum obstruction of anything
this president tried to do.
MATTHEWS: I just want to -- I just want to -- I want to play some more of
Mitch McConnell for our edification. It`s like our daily text today.
MATTHEWS: McConnell was asked -- but not a biblical one -- was asked by a
member of the crowd today at that AEI meeting -- that`s a conservative
group -- about impeaching Obama. Well, here`s his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: I`m pretty confident a House of Representatives controlled by
the opposition is going to have a thorough investigation, at least two
committees that I`m aware of, the committee headed by Darrell Issa and the
one by Dave Camp are pursuing this in a methodical way. And I don`t think
we ought to jump to any conclusions. I think we should to let the facts
take us where they take us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, wait a minute here. Is he -- what is he saying? It`s
again this clever conflation and intimation. The two committees are the
Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, and the other committee is
Ways and Means. Judiciary Committee is the committee that handles an
impeachment proceeding. And yet if you were an average person listening to
that stuff, that agitprop right then, you might get the conclusion in your
head, Hey, they`re working up a paper on impeachment because that`s what I
just heard him say. He says, in answer to a question about impeachment,
"I`m pretty confident the House (INAUDIBLE) is going through a thorough
What is he talking about?
FEEHERY: Well, I...
MATTHEWS: Is that a game he`s playing?
FEEHERY: I would have answered it differently than...
MATTHEWS: Do you think he`s suggesting there`s an impeachment proceeding
FEEHERY: I don`t think he`s suggesting that. I think...
MATTHEWS: Well, what is he suggesting?
FEEHERY: I think he`s suggesting is that we have committees of
jurisdiction that are following the facts as best they can, and we`ll see
what happens. And I...
MATTHEWS: That`s an answer to an impeachment question.
FEEHERY: That`s the answer to -- well, I think that`s his answer. I think
-- my answer would have been there`s not going to be any impeachment.
MATTHEWS: Is there anything in this that might, by any stretch -- you
know, the seven degrees of Kevin Bacon, whatever, any going around the
corner 50 times- any connection between what you know about the IRS mess
and the president being guilty of an impeachable offense?
MATTHEWS: Any connection to that possibility?
MATTHEWS: So why didn`t McConnell just say, Look, ladies and gentlemen I`m
a partisan leader.
FEEHERY: Let me -- let me...
MATTHEWS: I want to get reelected. This has got nothing to do with an
FEEHERY: Mitch McConnell is a smart politics. He picks his...
MATTHEWS: So anything goes.
FEEHERY: Let me -- let me say something to Joy`s point. I remember when
MATTHEWS: I love the way you change the standards!
FEEHERY: I`m -- I`m...
MATTHEWS: I bring you on the show to give me some logic, and you...
FEEHERY: I am giving you logic. What did I say?
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) anything goes.
FEEHERY: What did I -- what did I say...
MATTHEWS: Anything goes.
FEEHERY: What I said was, I wouldn`t have said that.
FEEHERY: I would have said this president is not going to be impeached.
But let me say what -- what Joy said earlier about Mitch McConnell`s
talking about President Obama`s -- his being a one-term president. I
remember when Denny Hastert was sworn in as speaker, and Dick Gephardt
said, I want to make sure -- the first day that Denny Hastert was speaker,
first day -- I want to make sure that he`s not speaker next time around.
This happens all the time, Joy, and I really think that all this belly-
aching about Mitch McConnell being against President Obama is crap. I
mean, the fact of the matter is that Mitch McConnell has a completely
different agenda than President Obama, and Mitch McConnell wants to beat
MATTHEWS: Respond to that, Joy, because I believe there used to be a thing
called a honeymoon. And this is...
FEEHERY: There was no honeymooning with Dick Gephardt...
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about the presidency.
REID: You`re talking about...
MATTHEWS: Isn`t there a sense that when the American people as a whole,
not a bunch of politicians in Washington electing a speaker...
REID: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: ... but the American people as a whole pick a president. Don`t
you think they should have their day, like a month or two, where you sort
of sift through and see what the new guy or the new woman has to say?
MATTHEWS: That`s an American principle.
REID: And Chris...
MATTHEWS: It`s not about congressional politics. Your thought.
REID: And Chris, I promise you that after the 2000 election was decided in
the Supreme Court, Democrats wanted anything in the world but to have
endure George W. Bush for four years, let alone eight.
But you did not see the kind of full-spectrum opposition to literally
anything the man wanted to do. He was still able to work his will through
the United States Congress. Now back to the other point, however...
MATTHEWS: What do you think would have happened if W. had won by 600,000
votes and had lost by one state in the Electoral College? Do you think the
Republicans would have said...
MATTHEWS: ... good work, congratulations.
FEEHERY: To be clear here -- Joy, to be clear, the president had all
levers of power with the Democrat Party.
FEEHERY: They had 59 votes in the Senate.
REID: Wrong. Wrong.
FEEHERY: They had an overwhelming majority...
FEEHERY: ... in the House.
FEEHERY: And they had -- they had the run of the place! So Mitch
REID: They had 60 votes.
FEEHERY: ... no choice...
REID: Sorry, John.
FEEHERY: No, but Mitch McConnell had no choice but to...
REID: John, John...
FEEHERY: ... lay the gauntlet down.
REID: You and I both know that Al Franken`s seat was not decided until the
summer. They did not have the 60 votes required...
FEEHERY: Right. They had...
REID: ... to pass Mitch McConnell`s new standard. Mitch McConnell created
a new standard, which is that anything that went through the United States
Senate, anything -- if they wanted to do a resolution to go to the
restroom, it had to have 60 votes. That was the new standard set just for
FEEHERY: There was no...
REID: And therefore, until the four-month...
FEEHERY: There was no resolution going to the bathroom.
REID: ... the four-month period when they finally got 60 votes is when
they got the Affordable Care Act through. Before that...
FEEHERY: Which has been a disaster.
REID: ... they couldn`t get anything through because Mitch McConnell had a
strategy, which was they get nothing through.
REID: Now, going back to the Tea Party for a second, what has happened is
that you have the Tea Party, the base, that wants to hear about things like
impeachment. Now that this IRS scandal has sunk back into the terrarium
where the right lives, where they only listen to their own media and each
other, Mitch McConnell has to play in their (INAUDIBLE). He has to...
MATTHEWS: Joy Reid, John Feehery, both of you...
FEEHERY: You know how much I dislike the Tea Party. I`ve gone after it.
I`m not a big fan of the Tea Party.
MATTHEWS: You know what? I`ve got a great solution. If everybody would
take a night off, you two guys can take over together. (INAUDIBLE) -- dead
serious. I just thought of something here.
Thank you, Joy Reid. You`re fabulous. And John Feehery -- was on the
MATTHEWS: Coming up, the end of "pray away the gay" -- that`s the phrase
some people use, maybe not. But one of the leading proponents and
practitioners of this debunked idea that you can really change your sexual
orientation doing some sort of therapy session -- he`s apologized to the
gays and lesbians he`s hurt. But don`t worry, other organizations have
emerged to take his place.
Plus, we wouldn`t normally pay much attention to the collapse of a farm
bill, but what happened here in Washington yesterday shows just how
dysfunctional the Republicans have become in running the House of
Representatives. You can`t predict anything, and we certainly can`t
predict -- I can`t -- what`s going to happen to immigration later this
summer. What are the chances of something really difficult like
immigration making it through this House? Difficult.
And Joe Biden charges Republicans with talking about -- I love this old-
time language -- a bunch of malarkey. This guy is pretty old school, isn`t
Anyway, finally, "Let Me Finish" tonight with the need for free medical
clinics for those that have no alternative. And we`re having something to
do with that.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Well, voters in Massachusetts go to the polls Tuesday -- that`s
this Tuesday -- in that special Senate election. And we`ve got new polling
on the race. And for that, we check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
According to a new Emerson College poll, U.S. Congressman Markey has a 10-
point lead over Republican Gabriel Gomez. It`s Markey 51, Gomez 41.
That`s consistent with other polls we`ve seen in the past week.
And a reminder. I`ll be up in Boston on Monday. We`re going to do the
whole show from up there on the eve of the elections. It`s going to be
(INAUDIBLE) love to get to Boston Monday night on the eve. And we`ll be
And we`ll be right back here right after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL. On this show, we`ve often talked
about the march toward gay rights in this country, whether it`s polls
showing increasing support for those people or prominent people voicing
support generally for the whole question of marriage equality and other
We`ve seen Hillary Clinton, for example, put out a video declaring her
support for gay marriage. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: LGBT Americans are our
colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones. And
they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship.
That includes marriage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, that`s the way most of us think these days. Basketball
player Jason Collins made the cover of "Sports Illustrated" when he came
out as the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport.
And now a remarkable reversal from Alan Chambers. He`s one of the leading
proponents of what`s called "gay reparative therapy," the idea that therapy
can help a gay person turn straight.
Well, Chambers, the president of the organization Exodus, this week posted
an apology that said -- this is pretty startling -- "I am sorry that some
of you spent years working through the shame and guilt you felt when your
attractions" -- that`s sexual attractions -- "didn`t change. I`m sorry we
promoted sexual orientation change efforts and reparative theories about
sexual orientation that stigmatized parents."
And then Chambers addressed members of the Exodus group itself to tell them
it was closing down. Here`s part of that speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALAN CHAMBERS, EXODUS INTERNATIONAL: While there has been so much good at
Exodus, there has also been bad. There have been people that we`ve hurt.
There are horror stories. And I`m not telling you this for any other
reason than to be honest and tell a true story about this ministry.
In 37 years, we haven`t done everything right. Because we`re a bunch of
humans, we`ve hurt people. We`ve helped people, but we`ve hurt people that
told stories of abuse and pain, missed opportunities, awful words that were
spoken to them, stories of abuse and pain from the church and even from
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, joining me right now is Wayne Besen. He`s executive director of
Truth Wins Out, and psychotherapist Dr. Laura Berman.
Thank you both. And this is a sensitive subject. And I can only imagine
what it`s like to be a young boy or girl and realize that your orientation
may not be the same as the majority of your classmates or your family
members and what they`re used to. And you live with that secret for a long
time and you wonder who to confide in and maybe you finally find someone to
confide in and then be told that there`s -- all that time, there`s
something basically wrong with you, and then to be told if you pray enough
or you go to the right therapist, you can get this thing fixed because it
is really something wrong that is a problem.
Let me ask you this about this, Wayne. I know you don`t agree with that.
Well, tell me what you think is the hurt that is done by these
organizations like the one that we just talked about, where they basically
bring you in as patients, that you`re going to get -- who are going to be
WAYNE BESEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, TRUTH WINS OUT: That`s exactly right.
They demean people. They dehumanize them. They tell them that they`re not
whole, they`re not complete, they`re not good enough.
And there`s a threat for many young people of being thrown out of their
house, of being rejected by every part of their community that they grew up
with. And it`s devastating. And the worst part is, they go to groups like
Exodus and they`re told that they can change.
And when it inevitably fails, because it always does, then the victim is
blamed for this failure. And we have seen everything from -- from
suicides. We have seen people who have been horribly depressed or who
slowly kill themselves through alcohol and drugs because they don`t think
they`re good enough, they believe they`re inferior. And it`s really
refreshing that Exodus is closing down. You cannot pray away the gay.
And I`m glad Alan Chambers finally agrees with that.
MATTHEWS: What do you mean by -- what do you mean by that phrase? I`m a
little concerned about the phrase -- it sounds derogatory -- "pray away the
gay." What does that mean?
BESEN: Well, that`s exactly what they do. It`s a very accurate term.
They go and they ask and plead on their hands and knees to Jesus to cure
them of their attractions to the same sex. And they do other things, such
as fasting and they other -- and also they are made to wear rubber bands on
their wrist occasionally. And when they see somebody attractive, they snap
And it`s just one big obstacle course of idiocy that inevitably comes back
to make the person feel worse when it doesn`t work. And, again, it never
MATTHEWS: Let me go to Dr. Berman.
Let me ask you a general question. Can someone -- we have people who have
dangerous proclivities, child molestation and things like that. And we can
go through the whole range of sexual things you want to change about
yourself. Let`s take something quite -- quite dominant in our culture,
which you have straight people, gay people, something that we are different
and born that way, I believe. I think it is nature.
And is it nature, the way you believe? In other words, if it`s something
you`re born with, it`s probably less likely to be dealt with by
modification and therapy or whatever.
DR. LAURA BERMAN, DIRECTOR, BERMAN CENTER: Right.
Well, reparative therapy is based on the assumption that being gay is a
BERMAN: And it`s not a choice. And the fact that they`re even calling...
MATTHEWS: Really? A choice? No, wait a minute. Let`s stop right here.
Attraction is not a choice.
BERMAN: Right. Well, that`s the fallacy.
MATTHEWS: You either pick up "Playboy" or you pick up "Playgirl."
MATTHEWS: You`re attracted to either beautiful or sexy people of either --
of either gender. That reaction is impulsive. How do you mean by
BESEN: But that is -- that is -- that is the assumption.
I am telling you that that`s not -- that would be like me telling you,
Chris, I`m going to put you through reparative therapy to help you learn
that you cannot be a man, you can be a woman, because...
BERMAN: And you know you`re a man.
MATTHEWS: OK. Does it ever work? Does it ever work?
BERMAN: It does not work. It does not work.
And this is something the American Psychological Association has been
talking -- 15 years ago, they came out in opposition of this and
establishing the fact that this does not work, looking at study after
study. And not only does it not work, but the people who go through it, as
you heard, first of all, just being gay -- as you mentioned, Chris, being
gay or lesbian in this country still today in 2013, the incidence,
especially among younger people who are -- haven`t come out yet and don`t
have a community of support, the incidence of drug addiction, of suicidal
thoughts and actions, of suicidal acts is significantly higher.
MATTHEWS: Yes, I know.
BERMAN: And then you put them through a religious group like this and not
only do they have -- feel like they`re a failure, but they have a crisis of
faith as well, because their God and the God they believed in has betrayed
them in their mind.
BERMAN: So they have nowhere to go.
MATTHEWS: I agree. That`s common sense.
BERMAN: And I work with people often who have been through this process
and are still dealing with the shrapnel.
MATTHEWS: Well, I think my view is that we`re all God`s children. And I
think that is the view of the most reasonably good people.
Anyway, last night on Oprah`s OWN network, Lisa Ling hosted a documentary
in which Exodus president Alan Chambers met with some of the people who had
been through reparative therapy and Exodus, his program. And this is
Sean`s story, a guy named Sean. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN, UNDERWENT EXODUS PROGRAM: I was told more than once as a teen that
I`m demon-possessed because I`m gay.
LISA LING, "OUR AMERICA": Sean served three tours in the Navy. He didn`t
ask. He didn`t tell, and he barely survived.
SEAN: When I left Exodus, I had joined the military, and I was just at my
end. I didn`t realize I was going into such a deep pit of despair and
anger. And I woke up one day. My friend had gone to work and he had a
loaded gun in his closet. And I was so happy about dying, it felt like I
was opening a Christmas present. That`s honestly how I felt.
And I went over to the closet, and I stood there, and I prayed that prayer
that I had prayed probably a million times. And I said, God, why will you
not change me? And I can`t describe it, but something from the outside,
Alan, told me not to take my life. And I said, God, why won`t you change
me? And it said to me, because there is nothing that I need to change
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Let me go for some positive news here. I love to leave people
on a Friday with some hope here, Wayne. And you have got some hope, I
The country I grew up in -- I`m in my 60s. The country I grew up in is
very different than the one I live in now. The words like queer thrown
around 20, 30 years ago, today, they could be used as -- somebody who`s gay
might say it sometimes for sort of campy reasons. But, today, I think
acceptance, it has gone beyond tolerance to acceptance, not quite the
celebration yet, but certainly full understanding and acceptance in a
What do you think the difference is for a young person today who at the age
of 12 or 13 at puberty says I think I`m that way? How is it different? I
want some hope here. I hope there`s some.
BESEN: There`s a lot of hope. I think equality is an unstoppable freight
Somebody who`s young today knows they can do anything they want, they can
be anybody they want. And there`s no limits on succeeding in this country
today. There`s a good chance if they come out, they`re going to be loved
and accepted by their parents, their friends, perhaps even their churches.
MATTHEWS: I think so.
BESEN: So I think that the world has changed dramatically even from when I
came out in 1988. It`s incredibly refreshing.
And I think it is only going to get better.
MATTHEWS: Well, keep it up, buddy. Wayne Besen, thank you so much for
BESEN: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: Dr. Laura Berman, the first time I think I have had you on, but
thank you so much. We will have you back.
BERMAN: Thanks for having me.
MATTHEWS: Up next, and now on a lighter notion here, Joe Biden, always on
a lighter notion, he wields his signature line, charging the Republicans as
a -- with a bunch of malarkey. Isn`t that healthy? Anyway, this is
HARDBALL, the place for politics. Malarkey.
MATTHEWS: Back to HARDBALL and now to the "Sideshow."
Well, the late-night comedians take on the week in international news this
First, Steve Colbert says farewell to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad`s presidency in
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": We`re finally saying goodbye
to President Mahmoud Ahma, na na na na, na na na na, hey, hey, hey, nejad.
COLBERT: Mahmoud, of course, is known for a number of questionable
choices, most offensively never wearing a tie with a suit.
COLBERT: Evidently, they don`t have the Father`s Day over there.
COLBERT: Of course, my rivalry with Mahmoud goes all the way back to 2006,
when I was promised the cover of "Newsweek" magazine, and the axis of
stubble over here evidently got wind of that, so he starts developing nukes
just to get himself on the cover and push me up to the golden corner.
COLBERT: Seven years later, Mahmoud`s gone, "Newsweek"`s gone, and look
who`s still here.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Steve`s great.
Anyway, David Letterman takes on Vladimir Putin for possibly pocketing a
Super Bowl ring back in 2005.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN")
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, "LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": Are you aware of
the fact that Vladimir Putin stole a Super Bowl ring from the owner of the
Boston Patriots? Here`s what else he`s been up to. Take a look at this.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... violence, and we are
continuing to strengthen our cooperation on this issue, including, as we
welcome Russia hosting the Winter Olympics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Actually, I really do think that Vladimir Putin clipped Robert
Kraft`s Super Bowl ring. I really do think he grabbed it.
Next, "The Godfather" meets reality, sort of. Remember Robert Duvall`s
character in the first two "Godfather" movies? He played Tom Hagen, of
course, a lawyer for the Corleone crime family. Anyway, the trial of
notorious mobster James "Whitey" Bulger is going on in Boston this week,
and guess who showed up at the courthouse to see what was happening?
You bet. There`s Robert Duvall leaving the courthouse this morning.
According to the AP, Duvall sat in the back of the courtroom with other
spectators. He`s in the area shooting a movie with other big-name actors
like Billy Bob Thornton and Robert Downey Jr.
Next, Joe Biden uses one of his signature words to sum up his disagreement
with opponents of immigration reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All this stuff you
heard the last six months about the astronomical cost of immigration
reform, it`s a bunch of malarkey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: A bunch of malarkey. Well, that got a lot of play during the
vice presidential debate this past election, getting over 30,000 mentions
on Twitter after Biden`s response to Paul Ryan regarding the Benghazi
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: With all due respect, that`s a bunch of malarkey.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Merriam-Webster.com reported that, thanks to Biden,
malarkey was a top searched term for 2012. And, apparently, it`s sticking
Finally, it`s been a big week for Hillary Clinton, of course, even though
she personally has done nothing to indicate her future political plans.
Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has become the first sitting member of
the Congress to endorse Clinton for president in 2016.
And it turns out the negativity has begun, too. Enter Stop Hillary 2016, a
new campaign from the Republican super PAC America Rising. That campaign
was launched by Matt Rhoades, the former campaign manager for Mitt Romney`s
presidential bid. So, for now, it`s them against the pro-Hillary super PAC
Ready for Hillary.
Up next, more proof of just how dysfunctional the Republican Party has
become in the House especially. If John Boehner can`t get the farm bill
passed, how is he going to deal with something like something really tough
like immigration reform?
That`s ahead. You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
As if we needed another example of just how dysfunctional the Republican
Caucus and maybe Washington generally is, yesterday offered a perfect
example. The speaker of the House, John Boehner, had predicted this week
that the Republican-drafted farm bill, for example, would pass with a broad
But when the votes were tallied, the bill failed 227-198. Well, Eric
Cantor and other Republican leaders quickly blamed Democrats for falling
off. But the embarrassing fact is that 62 Republicans, a quarter of the
Republican Caucus, voted against the bill supported by the leadership.
And groups like Jim DeMint`s Heritage Action group cheered its defeat.
Well, here`s how Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi responded to criticism from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: You know, but it`s always
interesting to me when people blame other people for their own failures.
If we ever came to you when we had the majority and said we didn`t pass a
bill because we didn`t get enough Republican votes, well, you know, that`s
really -- it`s silly. It`s sad. It`s juvenile. It`s unprofessional.
It`s amateur hour.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: It`s a lot of things there. Only 24 Democrats, by the way,
voted for the bill because a last-minute Republican amendment to allow
states to cut the number of people eligible for food stamps turned off the
All in all, it`s a hugely embarrassing episode for Speaker John Boehner.
It also doesn`t bode well for the prospects of the House passing
immigration reform, because everybody thinks it`s up to the leadership to
push this bill through, because the rank and file are really just going to
Anyway, I want get an expert on here.
Congressman Steve Israel is the chairman of the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee, a great organization.
Congressman, you are a smart guy. So, I`m going to appeal to you to look
across the aisle and tell me who`s calling the shots over there. Is it
Boehner? Is it Cantor? Is it McCarthy? It or some guy or woman we don`t
even know their name who somehow speaks for 80 or so rambling,
uncontrollable Tea Partiers?
REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Well, thanks for having me on, Chris.
The answer to your question is: it`s a small cadre of extremist right wing
Republican who have hijacked their party and hijacked their caucus. You
know, we had what should have been a noncontroversial farm bill that should
have passed with a bipartisan majority. They managed to take a non-
controversial farm bill and turn it into a partisan mess that failed.
I cannot imagine what they`re going to do with a controversial immigration
It shows that they continue to be incapable of compromise, incapable of
solutions and incapable of progress.
MATTHEWS: Well, the question I do and I`m sure you try to divine this all
the time politically as well as in terms of policy, what I`m always trying
to divine based again about what latest evidence of Boehner not running the
show over there, is there a 50/50 chance or what kind of chance under the
Hastert Rule of getting a majority of Republicans to do anything out on the
floor. Do you think there`s going to be a bill -- will there be a
conference report they can get through the House, something that has a
pathway to citizenship in it?
ISRAEL: Well, first of all, I hope so. We need a compromise. We need a
solution on immigration.
Democrats are prepared to compromise. We know we can`t have it all our way
all the time. The problem is, you`ve got a Republican caucus that really
does believe that they should have it all, all the time. We need a
compromise. I hope we can get there.
I was optimistic until yesterday`s farm bill. If they can`t even get a
farm bill passed on the floor of the House when they are in charge, how are
they going to get an immigration bill passed? What`s the strategy?
Here`s the bottom line I think: John Boehner is a tactic without a
strategy. He lives to survive with the gavel on a daily basis.
MATTHEWS: I agree.
ISRAEL: But he has no long-term strategy to govern the country and it is
why we have this political partisan mess on our hands.
MATTHEWS: Oh, he`s not a nut. He doesn`t fit in. Anyway, yesterday, Eric
Cantor blamed Democrats for the bill`s defeat. Let`s watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), MAJORITY LEADER: What we saw is today was a
Democratic leadership in the House that was insistent to undo years and
years of bipartisan work on an issue like a farm bill and decide to make it
a partisan issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, what do you make of that? Is it -- was it about the food
stamps? The fact that there was a poison pill thrown in here?
ISRAEL: You know, I love the finger pointing from the majority leader
who`s in charge of getting a majority to pass bills. Here`s what happened.
When the Democrats were in the majority, we passed a farm bill with over
300 votes, Democrats and Republicans because it was based on compromise.
And compromise was we support assistance to farmers and also support
supplemental nutrition assistance programs to poor people.
And so, Democrats voted for it and Republicans voted for it. What did Eric
Cantor and this Tea Party do with this bill? They cut supplemental
nutrition assistance for poor people by $20 billion. They threw in poison
pill after poison pill. They treated poor people as if they are guilty of
committing a crime and then they said to the Democrats you help us pass
That`s not how it works. Compromise works. Poison pill dozen not.
MATTHEWS: OK, thanks so much. I love having you on all the time. Steve
Israel, who is, in fact, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign
ISRAEL: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: For more of yesterday`s embarrassing defeat on the Republican
side, we`re joined by Democratic strategist Margie Omero.
Margie, thanks for joining us.
You heard that. I don`t know what you had to add to that. But it was
thorough going. But go back to the farm bill that should have passed.
They lost 62 Republicans. If they had held 20 of them, they would have
gotten this thing through. They couldn`t even hold off the erosion there.
MARGIE OMERO, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Right. I mean, they lost some
Republicans because Republicans felt it didn`t go far enough in these cuts
to food for hungry people. I know the farm bill is not sexy to a lot of
people. What the difference was between this House bill and what passed in
the Senate is really these cuts to families. We`re talking about 2 million
families who can`t afford to eat.
MATTHEWS: So nothing`s passing. Nothing`s passing.
OMERO: School lunches for kids. So, yes, nothing`s passing. I think it`s
easy to look at this and throw up our hands and say it`s just another
example of Congress that has just become completely dysfunctional.
It doesn`t necessarily mean that the immigration bill is going to have a
hard time in the House, because you`re talking about at least a plan there
that has gotten a lot of Republicans in the Senate on board. You have a
bipartisan committee working on it for a long time. So, it seems like
there are a lot of Republicans getting on board with what the gang of
eight, plus the additional border security negotiations are producing.
So, I don`t know if there`s a direct line between the farm bill and
MATTHEWS: If you were a Republican member of the House, would you vote for
-- would you have voted for the farm bill?
OMERO: That`s a hypothetical. It`s very hard for me to entertain.
MATTHEWS: I wonder what is so wrong with the bill.
OMERO: I would have been against $20 billion in cuts for helping people
who can`t afford dinner for their families.
MATTHEWS: So, let`s talk about what it says about the leadership. Again
back to you, the question looking on the Hill, do you think that the
Republican Party is being led by John Boehner or is it being led by the Tea
Party? If it`s led by the Tea Party, why would you ever believe an
immigration bill would pass?
OMERO: You know, look, I mean John Boehner -- look, a majority of
Americans, a majority of Republicans even are dissatisfied with the current
Republican leadership, that Pew found out about a month ago. So I think
that this is -- this dissatisfaction with leadership is not just in
Washington. It`s going on around the country.
Immigration, I think there`s this myth that Republicans need to get on
board with immigration because --
MATTHEWS: I don`t know they got to get on board with it. I`m not sure
they think they got a single Republican vote coming this way. But that`s
OMERO: You know, it`s a majority, even a majority of Republicans want to
see a path to citizenship, according to an NBC poll, a majority of
MATTHEWS: Latino people in this country, good people, and a lot of them
are very American, even if they`re not legal. They feel American.
Let me ask you this question, when this bill gets passed, it`s got a 13-
year path to citizenship and that`s maybe -- even take longer than that in
some cases to get to the -- who are they going to blame for how tough it
is, the Democrats or Republicans? They`re going to blame the Republicans
for how it is, even if they sign the bill.
You guys made this bill too onerous. They`ll never blame minority members
of Congress, Latino members of Congress. They`ll blame the conservatives.
So, why they vote for this is amazing to me.
OMERO: You know, I think that`s a fair point. But it`s not just about the
specifics of the immigration bill. It`s -- what kind of language are they
using? It`s a cue -- do Latinos feel welcomed by the Republican Party?
MATTHEWS: Well, if you say, if you wait 20 years, I might think about it.
It doesn`t sound very welcome.
Margie Omero, you`re too nice.
We`ll be right back I`m serious, I`m serious.
We`re going to be right after this. Thanks for coming on. Thank you.
MATTHEWS: We`ll be right back to talk about the need for free medical
clinics for those who have no alternative. Boy, this is a problem still.
And what we can do about it.
HARDBALL back after this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we stay focused, by next
year, tens of millions of Americans will have access to better, more
affordable health care. In decades from now, Republicans will regret
opposing the Affordable Care Act just like some did for Social Security and
Medicare. That`s why we need you to help more Americans understand what
this law means for them, to push back against the lies and misinformation
and to tell people why it`s important to sign up if they don`t have health
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: We`re back.
That was, of course, to those not following the news. President Obama hear
talking about progressive activists yesterday at the Netroots Nation
In just over 100 days, the key component of the Affordable Care Act,
otherwise known as Obamacare, is said to take effect. October 1st, about
30 million Americans will be eligible to enroll in state health care
exchanges. Another key component, a major expansion of Medicaid, which
will always been for poor people, will kick in -- and working poor -- will
kick in January 1st. It`s meant to expand health care coverage to 20
million more Americans. So, it`s raising the standard so you can get it
even though you make a bit more than you used to.
But some Republican governors and legislatures continue to try to block the
effort on Medicaid. If Obamacare were carefully implemented by the way,
tens of millions of Americans would still be without coverage in America.
And that`s where groups like the National Association of Freedom and
Charitable clinics comes in, try to fill that gap.
In July 3rd, MSNBC is partnering, that`s this July 3rd coming up, with
them, or a one day free health clinic down in New Orleans.
Nicole Lamoureux is the group`s executive director.
Well, you do great work. I`ve just been hearing about it. Here`s the
story. You basically open up a window. You let people know somewhere in
town, in New Orleans in this case, there are going to be doctors and health
care practitioners who can help people meet their primary care needs.
Tell me about what happens.
NICOLE LAMOUREUX, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FREEDOM AND CHARITABLE CLINICS:
Well, on July 3rd, what we do is we set up the world`s largest doctors
office for a day. We bring in doctors, nurse practitioners ands we set up
a whole medical clinic so people can get those physicals that they need.
Can`t tell you how many people need a physical to go back to work,
construction work, substitute teachers, we get so many substitute teachers
who just need that physical. That`s what we do for them.
But we also do a lot more -- EKG machines, pregnancy testing, diabetes
testing. We give three free months of medication away for patients. But
most importantly, we connect them to local resources that are there. You
know, there`s 1,200 free and chartable clinics across the United States
that do this work every single day and many people don`t know that --
MATTHEWS: Who shows up?
LAMOUREUX: Eighty-three percent of our patients come from a working
household. Think about that.
MATTHEWS: So, if somebody`s got paycheck and they can`t despite the fact
they are working 40 hours a week don`t have the health care they need.
LAMOUREUX: They don`t have the healthcare they need.
MATTHEWS: They readily recognize they`ve got health needs. It`s not like
people that don`t pay attention. They know they got help challenges. They
know they need testing so they are alert and responsible but they don`t
have way to get it.
LAMOUREUX: The last clinic that we were at out in New Orleans, over 52
percent of the people hasn`t been to a doctor in five years. Not because
they didn`t want go, but because there`s so many limited avenues of access
of care for them.
We`re talking about diabetes in the 400 range. We had to send so many
people to the hospital. But think about that --
MATTHEWS: How did they know they had diabetes?
LAMOUREUX: Well, they were sweating. They were thirsty all the time.
They felt dizzy. They didn`t know where they were some of the time.
MATTHEWS: Because I`ve got diabetes and I`m taking care of it. Thank God.
LAMOUREUX: Thank goodness. But you know how it feels --
MATTHEWS: These people are going around with type 2 and they are going to
have serious problems.
LAMOUREUX: Serious problems. We had to put so many in the ambulance and
get them over. But if you take care of it in the beginning, you get the
medication you need, your diet, exercise --
MATTHEWS: Well, I`m almost there.
Anyway, let me ask you -- thank you for coming on. By the way, it`s so
stunning to hear about this. The best demonstration of a need is when
people come out and say I got the need and go to the trouble of showing up
and waiting in line. Thank you, Nicole Lamoureux, well, that French name.
If you want help or want to do some help here, and you should, visit the
National Association for Free and Charitable Clinics. One line, it`s
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
Nothing is so powerful than a vivid human reaction to a need. The fact
that so many people show up to these free clinics, show up to doctors they
do not know, go to a place they may have never been, go to all that trouble
says something we cannot ignore, that something is that these people who
show up are starving for medical care. And say what you will, they come
because they need something they don`t have. Health care for problems that
are real, that are scaring them enough to make this special effort.
Secondly, it says that they lack a local way of meeting their medical
challenges. They don`t have a doctor. They lack any primary care to speak
of, even though they know they need it. That`s why they are showing up at
the free clinics like the one on July 3rd down in New Orleans.
As I said, it`s a statement. And for all the talk about the possible
friction of putting the Obama health care bill into action, think a moment
about what the other side, the Republicans side is offering to the lines in
the emergency today and today, to the lines of people heading to every free
clinic they hear about.
Sadly and stupidly, the other side, the Republican side on health care is
offering nothing. Nothing. Nada.
That`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"POLITICS NATION" with Al Sharpton starts right now.
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