THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
August 27, 2013
Guests: Robert Reich, Marc Ginsberg, Dorian Warren
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: John Boehner thinks he is in a lot of
trouble. And you know how he proved that this week? By going to Idaho.
There is no good reason for a Republican speaker of the House to go to
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Speaker John Boehner Monday promised a whale of a
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He could very well see the shutdown of the
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shut the government down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut down the government again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have the budget battle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is the budget? What is going to happen?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans aren`t willing to budget.
JACK LEW, TREASURY SECRETARY: Congress does need to act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new treasury secretary warns Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Treasury Secretary Jack Lew --
LEW: We are not going to be negotiating over the debt limit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The government will hit its debt ceiling by mid-
LEW: We are not going to be negotiating --
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: This is the looming budget battle to defund
the Affordable Care Act.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If Obamacare is such a disaster, then you guys
should be willing to defund it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I oppose Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t really de-fund Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In de-funding parts of Obamacare.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Please, stop Obamacare.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC HOST: Cruz has found kind of a niche.
CRUZ: Obamacare will become a permanent feature.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Targeting John Boehner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attack on John Boehner from the far right.
HAYES: John Boehner is in a pretty tough spot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sympathy for John Boehner.
HAYES: Or else they will start to call it Boehner-care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Boehner-care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Syria, Egypt, fires and flood, immigration, the
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS: Big concern from the Syrian rebels.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There must be a response.
JANET NAPOLITANO, DHS SECRETARY: Or borders are now better staffed
and better protected.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This fire is now 20 percent contained.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It ain`t easy being the president.
O`DONNELL: John Boehner and the House Republican leadership have been
clearly sending the message that they are not willing to shut down the
government at the end of September in order to force the president to agree
to de-fund Obamacare.
The Republican leadership`s message is simple and clear -- that will
not work. We can`t force the president to go along with de-funding Obama
care. That message, simple enough, has enraged some of their Tea Party
friends and right wing radio talk show hosts.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MARK LEVIN, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: The Republican leadership, that
would be Boehner and Cantor and McCarthy, they told the Republicans members
they will not try, they will not try to de-fund Obamacare through the
continuing resolution, and the attempt to fight with the sequestration
level reductions in spending, no more.
This is your Johnny Boehner, ladies and gentlemen. I said several
months ago, maybe I ought to repeat this, and maybe this ought to be.
Rather than calling it Obamacare, we should call it Boehner-care, Boehner
won`t even fight.
Boehner, he`s -- is the word pathetic appropriate? I think it`s
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Boehner-care, oh, nothing, not a word any Democrat has
ever said about John Boehner cut as deeply as the epithet "Boehner-care."
That is now being thrown around by Republicans. So John Boehner decided if
he is not going to talk tough about de-funding Obamacare, he`s got to talk
tough about something. And so, John Boehner has circled all the way back
to an old favorite, the debt ceiling.
He said this yesterday in Boise, Idaho: "I have made it clear that
we`re not going to increase the debt limit without cuts and reforms that
are greater than the increase in the debt limit. The president doesn`t
think this is fair. He thinks I`m being difficult to deal with.
It may be unfair, but what I`m trying to do here is leverage the
political process to produce more change than what it would produce if left
to its own devices. We`re going to have a whale of a fight."
John Boehner obviously thinks, promising his crazier members, a whale
of a fight over the debt ceiling will help him fast that first deadline,
the September 30th deadline, for continuing the regular funding of
government. The treasury expects to hit the debt limit a few weeks after
that. But if John Boehner expects a whale of a fight over the debt limit,
it`s not going to be with this guy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not have a
debate with this congress over whether or not they that pay the bills that
they have already racked up through the laws that they passed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And if John Boehner has any doubts about that, today, the
treasury secretary said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEW: The president has been very clear. We are not going to be
negotiating over the debt limit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is a clean debt limit, with nothing attached to
it, the only kind the president will accept?
LEW: Yes. I`m just going to have to reiterate, John, the president
is not going to be negotiating over the debt limit. And Congress has to
act to pass the debt limit. Since 1789, every Congress has acted to pay
the bills of the United States. This Congress needs to do the same thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You know what is the strangest thing about what John
Boehner said about having a whale of a fight over the debt limit? The
strangest thing about that line is where he said it. He said it in Boise,
Idaho, which would be fine if he was just coming off a vacation, you know,
riding the rapids of the salmon river, something like that, which is the
kind of thing that the speaker of the House can do in the August recess in
a non-election year. The speaker gets to have some real down time in
August of a non-election year, but not this speaker, because this speaker
is not confident that Republicans can actually hold their majority in the
House of Representatives.
And that is why this speaker is on a 35-day campaign bus tour, 35 days
in a bus for the speaker of the House, a bus tour for the Republican
candidate for the House who won`t even be on a ballot until next year.
But that what makes it even weirder, this whole bus tour thing is that
he took the bus to Idaho. Idaho is like the Vatican of Republicanism.
Idaho is hard-core Republican country. The Democrats don`t have a chance
of picking up a House seat in Idaho.
But John Boehner is not there because he is afraid of Democrats. His
campaign energy is being used up in Idaho now, fighting against an even
crazier Republican than the incumbent Republican in the second Idaho
The incumbent Mike Simpson will be challenged in next year`s
Republican primary by Bryan Smith, who said this. When asked if he would
vote for Speaker John Boehner to retain his speakership?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYAN SMITH: I can tell you that I would put in last hope in the most
conservative person as it would represent the conservative values of the
good people from Idaho`s second congressional district.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That is a "no, I won`t vote for John Boehner." And John
Boehner knows it.
Brian Smith is being backed by the ultra-crazy, Club for Growth, you
know the anti-tax group that`s even crazier than Grover Norquist. The Club
for Growth actually set up a Web site called primarymycongressman.com. And
Brian Smith clicked on that Web site and became a Republican congressional
And a top reason for the Club for Growth challenging incumbent
Republicans and supporting primaries against Republican incumbent Mike
Simpson, is that Mike Simpson voted to increase the debt limit just like
John Boehner asked him to after John Boehner struck a deal with President
Obama in 2011.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: When you look at this
final agreement that we came to with the White House, you know, I got 98
percent of what I wanted. I`m pretty happy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And with that agreement, John Boehner led eight-term
Republican Congressman Mike Simpson from the safest seat in the House
straight into a primary fight with primary congressman candidate, Bryan
Smith. And that, that primary is going to be a whale of a fight.
Joining me now are: former labor secretary, Robert Reich, now a
professor at the University of California-Berkeley, his new documentary
"Inequality for All" comes out September 27th. And "The Washington Post,"
Ezra Klein. Ezra, of course, is MSNBC analyst.
Robert Reich, we`re developing, or at that time on the calendar again
where September 30th, we come to the point where we have to come up with a
type of legislation to continue funding the government, followed quickly by
an increase in the debt ceiling. And of course, as usual, the Republican
threats are flying.
ROBERT REICH, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: Well, yes, Lawrence, this whale
of a fight. It is interesting to conceive of John Boehner having a whale
of a fight with a president that is not going to negotiate. It`s like
shadow boxing. And who are you actually going to fight with when the
president is not going to negotiate?
And the president is actually right in not negotiating. Bond markets
are already going to be roiled by the Feds tapering off the quantitative
easing. I mean, if you add to that a chance of a default on the federal
debt, we`re going to see bond markets go crazy, Wall Street is going to be
upset, all the patrons of the Republican Party are going to come down very
hard on them, as they did the last time they pull this.
O`DONNELL: I want to play what Jay Carney said about negotiating on
the debt ceiling yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: Let me reiterate what our position is, and it is unequivocal,
we will not negotiate with Republicans in Congress over Congress`s
responsibility to pay the bills that Congress has racked up, period. It is
Congress` responsibility to maintain the full faith and credit of the
United States. We have never defaulted and we must never default. That is
our position, 100 percent, full stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, did you hear any wiggle room in there?
EZRA KLEIN, THE WASHINGTON POST: No, the Obama administration, this
is actually, I think, a really important point. They have religion on this
issue. They don`t talk about this issue the way they kind of talk about
raising taxes on the rich, or something they normally support, right? They
are zealous on this issue.
And the reason they`re so committed on it they come to the conclusion,
they believe it`s a legacy issue for them. They believe to be the
administration that allowed the debt ceiling to become a routine point of
hostage negotiations and a routine point of leverage for minority party in
Congress would be to saddle future presidential administrations with a
dangerous time bomb. One day, they will be judged very harshly by history.
And so, they are absolutely and utterly determined to break the Republican
Party and any party for that matter of this habit right now. They are not
going to negotiate.
But I tell you, that`s why I`m actually more afraid than a lot of
people in Washington right now, because right now, you have two mutually
exclusive positions on the table. The Obama position won`t negotiate. The
Republicans won`t raise the debt limit without concessions. And the only
way that equation works unless something that nobody can explain to me
changes really quickly, the only way that equation works is for a certain
amount of time the debt ceiling does not get raised.
I`m not saying I think it`s likelier we breach it, but I think it`s
likelier we get into some kind of crisis mode than a lot of people do right
O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, is it possible that John Boehner is sort of
junkie-like speaker of the House in the sense that he just needs a first
fix today? And the first fix he needs is to continue funding the
government beginning October 1st, which is also the crucial day where
signing up for Obamacare begins October 1st. And that once he gets that
vote done, and he is still sounding tough on the debt ceiling, he can then
figure out a way to sound just soft enough by the time the debt ceiling
REICH: You know, I`m sure that he is -- his strategy is really a non-
O`DONNELL: Yes, I didn`t say it was a good strategy, that is for
REICH: Basically is the only strategy available to him. You just
kick the can down the road as far as you possibly can. That September 30th
deadline for getting some sort of budget agreement is necessary to avoid a
government shutdown. And Boehner knows what happened to Newt Gingrich,
when Newt Gingrich had a shutdown.
All of this is taking place, remember in the gravitational pull of the
2016 mid-terms, I mean, people -- 2014. People know this is coming up.
People know that how the parties are positioned and how they`re viewed is
going to affect what happens in 2014.
The other thing to keep in mind here is that the deficit, unlike the
last time Republicans were threatening all kinds of things, the deficit is
now a very tiny proportion of the GDP. It`s on track to become only 4
percent of the total economy by the end of this fiscal year.
I mean, the Congressional Budget Office is predicting 3.4 percent next
year. This is the same as the 30-year average of a 3.3 percent deficit as
a percentage of GDP. It`s a non-issue, it should be a non-issue.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, is it your worry that the opponents of the debt
ceiling will actually dig in stronger after they see some kind of deal
worked out on September 30th, for funding the government?
KLEIN: Right. And I mean, as part of working out that deal for
funding the government. John Boehner and Eric Cantor are going to them and
explicitly saying, no, no, no, this government shut down thing, that`s the
foolish game. But it will be really fun, it would be really awesome is if
we do this on the debt ceiling.
I mean, Cantor said to "Reuters" a couple of days ago, he said the
debt ceiling is a point of leverage. So, they`re going to convince their
caucus, the members, this is a good idea. And then we`ll get past the
conference if there is any time after that, by the way. Get past the
continuing resolution, rather. If there is any time, they thought they
would have a couple of months before the debt ceiling.
Now, we know we`re going to have continuing resolution to fund the
government by the end of September. That needs to be in place by October
The debt ceiling, we hit it with kind of a point of no return in mid-
October. Nothing more we can do at that point. So, they don`t have two or
three months to come up with a strategy. When they do it, it is all going
to be one big fight.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, thank you for giving us something to worry
And, Robert Reich, thank you for joining us tonight also.
KLEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Vice President Joe Biden says that Syria`s
government must be held accountable for its actions.
And tomorrow marks 50 years since the march on Washington, President
Obama will speak at tomorrow`s celebration. Joy Reid will have a preview
of what she thinks the president will say.
And in the rewrite tonight, a Brooklyn high school student rewrites
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, police commissioner Ray Kelly and
the policy of stop-and-frisk.
O`DONNELL: Don`t let North Carolina legislators tell you they take
their job seriously. They don`t. Each member of the general assembly is
paid $13,951 per year. And they all make more money than that in their day
jobs, than they do as legislators, and they legislate accordingly, or
actually even less than accordingly. They turn out legislation that is
actually utterly useless, not even worth a penny of their paychecks.
So, North Carolina voters are not getting their money`s worth out of
their legislators. They actually passed a law banning judges from
considering Sharia law in North Carolina courtrooms. The governor then
refused to sign the legislation, calling it, quote, "unnecessary", which it
couldn`t be more obvious.
But the governor also refused to veto it because he lives in fear of
the crazies who have taken over his state. And refusing to veto it means
that the bill will indeed become law in North Carolina.
The North Carolina legislature will presumably be busy for years to
come, banning French law from North Carolina courtrooms. And British law,
and Mexican law. And Canadian law. And Swedish law. And Chinese law.
And Russian law. And Israeli law.
O`DONNELL: Tonight, the Obama administration has reportedly going
closer to a possible military strike against Syria, with Vice President
Biden saying the Assad regime must be held accountable for using chemical
weapons on its citizens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no doubt
who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria, the
Syrian regime. the president believes and I believe, that those who use
chemical weapons against defenseless men, women, and children should and
must be held accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Obama discussed possible responses with his
foreign counterparts ahead of next week`s G-8 Summit, calling leaders in
Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and France. And today, the question
remains, what kind of response can the U.S. deliver?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARNEY: The decision about the use of military force has not been
made. The president is reviewing his options, plural, and obviously his
options are many and they include a variety of possibilities that are not
limited to the use of force.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The administration has also said that boots on the ground
is not an option the president is considering. And any possibility of U.N.
sanctions military intervention remains unlikely, with Russia and China as
members of the Security Council, which, of course, gives them use of veto
power over any U.N. action.
On Monday, U.N. chemical weapons inspectors in Damascus came under
attack when a sniper hit a vehicle in their convoy. U.N. workers plan to
resume their inspection on Wednesday and are not scheduled to leave the
country until Sunday.
Joining me now, Marc Ginsberg, former ambassador to Morocco under
Clinton, and former White House advisor on Mideast policy. And MSNBC.com
executive editor and political analyst, Richard Wolffe.
Ambassador Ginsberg, is it conceivable that President Obama would
authorize action before the weapons inspectors have completed their work?
MARC GINSBERG, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO: Yes, I think,
Lawrence, that Secretary Kerry already has basically discounted the need
for the weapons inspectors to have their report on the table before the
United States action. When the secretary said yesterday that there is
undeniable proof that the Assad regime has engaged in the use of chemical
weapons, he basically discounted the fact that the U.N. report would do
anything to contravene the assessment of the United States government.
O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, the last time we were told that the
undeniable proof was in the presentation by Colin Powell at the United
Nations, where he actually did present a version of the evidence that they
had. Would it be incumbent on this administration to make a similar
presentation, rather than just these declarative statements?
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is incumbent on them.
And I expect that they will present both a classified form to Congress, and
a de-classified form to the world and to the American people, too.
It`s easy to make the comparisons between the two. Obviously, that
was the last serious engagement this country engaged with in the Arab
world. But the circumstances are so vastly different. Where Colin Powell
was really building a case on conjecture around the absence of an account
of chemical weapons.
Here we have international proof from the medics, the international
medics on the ground who treated these people, and the intelligence that I
would say that whatever the American government can present here. So, I
just -- this is just such a different situation. And there are real
victims who have shown the real symptoms of chemical weapons attacks.
So, I understand the comparison and what the administration has to
cross in terms of the bar, but, yes, they do have to make a case, yes, and
it has to be compelling.
O`DONNELL: And, Ambassador, don`t they have to show what they
consider the proof that it was Assad who did this?
GINSBERG: Yes, I have every expectation that the administration is
going to do precisely what Richard suggested. It`s going to be a
classified report because of intelligence sources that need to be
protected. But a public document will essentially corroborate all of the
independent information that has confirmed, at least from the
administration`s own assessment, because after all, both Secretary Hagel
and Secretary Kerry have made those statements, and corroborated by the
British and French, that there is indeed a sufficient amount of information
out there that justifies, in effect, a conclusion that the Assad regime
engaged in this attack.
O`DONNELL: Richard, if I was hearing exactly the same sentences and
they involved a Republican administration, I would be hearing outrage
tonight that we are rushing into this policy. That we`re doing this based
on trusting individuals, trusting an individual secretary of state,
president, defense secretary --
WOLFFE: Well, John Kerry, when he was running for president in 2004,
liked to talk about the kind of evidence the American administration showed
under Kennedy, the Cuban missile crisis. He held that as an example on
what any American administration would have to do to justify action like
this. So, the evidence has to be convincing.
O`DONNELL: What are they waiting for? How did they allow their
rhetoric to get ahead of this evidence presentation?
WOLFFE: You know, there has been a very vigorous internal debate for
the last two years inside the administration about taking action against
the Syrians. So, they have already killed hundreds of thousands of their
own people using conventional weapons.
The question, if you are going to build a humanitarian case, isn`t
about the people who died. It`s about what the Syrian response will be.
That`s what we`re really discussing here. We know that the Russians will
veto it. Can you affect this without losing American lives? And I think
that`s what`s moved on.
O`DONNELL: Marc Ginsberg and Richard Wolffe, thank you both for
joining me tonight.
Coming up in the rewrite, a law abiding high school senior will tell
you what it feels like to be stopped and frisked.
And Joy Reid will join me with a preview of what the president might
say tomorrow in his speech commemorating Martin Luther King`s dream.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I think it`s important to recognize that the African American
community is looking at is issue through a set of experiences and a history
that -- that doesn`t go away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the president last month talking about Trayvon
Martin. The president will have more to say about the African-American
experience tomorrow at the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. He
will be speaking from the same spot where Martin Luther King Jr. Delivered
his famous "I have a dream" speech.
On Tom Joyner`s radio show today, the president gave some insight on
what to expect on his speech tomorrow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Is it ready?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not quite yet. Still
working on it. But let me just say for the record right now. It won`t be
as good as the speech 50 years ago. And so you know, you know, all I can
do on an occasion like this is just to celebrate the accomplishments of all
of those folks whose shoulders we stand on. And then remind people that,
you know, the work is still out there for us to do. And that we honor his
speech, but also more importantly, in many ways the organization and the
ordinary people who came out for that speech. We honor them, not by giving
another speech ourselves, because it won`t be as good. But instead by just
doing the day to day work, making sure this is a more equal society.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now from Washington, MSNBC`s Joy Reid and here
in New York, Dorian Warren, associate professor of political science and
public affairs in Columbia University and a fellow at the Roosevelt
Joy, where are you going to be tomorrow for the speech, and what do
you expect to hear there?
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, I`ll be there
in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. It is going to be an incredible
event, just the history of it. I mean, at the history. It is incredible.
You can`t oversell the gravity of the idea of standing there in the shadow
of the Lincoln Memorial, listening to the first African-American president
giving a speech on that day, on the 50th anniversary of the March on
O`DONNELL: And Dorian, given what we know, he has had to study this,
on Martin Luther King Jr.`s speech forward or even possibly top beyond
that. What do you think he is going to be collecting and using in this
I imagine he is going to first talk about some of the statistics of
remaining disparities, not just racial disparities that we have in this
country, but also income and equality which he has been talking about for
the last several months. And I imagine he might Harkin back to, not just
Dr. King, but to the person for whom the March on Washington for jobs and
freedom gave to first. And that is A. Philip Randolph, the black trading
union leader who famously in 1941 threatened Franklin Roosevelt with a
100,000 person march to get them to issue an executive order to get them to
obsession the defense industry.
DORIAN WARREN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY: So, I think
it will probably hear some of that from him. And frankly, I hope that he
takes his own advice as he mentioned today and not just give a speech.
But, the president has the power to take action to lift two million
workers, at poverty level, has the power to change it with the stroke of
the pen. So, he can put himself in the same category, not as King, but
with Roosevelt and with Johnson.
O`DONNELL: Tom Joyner asked him today what he thinks Martin Luther
King would say today about what has become of his dream. Let`s listen to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: When it comes to the economy, when it comes to inequality,
when it comes to wealth, when it comes to, you know, the challenges that
inner cities experience, he would say that we have not made as much
progress as the civil and social progress that we`ve made and that it is
not enough just to have a black president. It is not enough just to have a
black syndicated radio show host.
The question is, as an ordinary person, day to day, can they succeed?
And we have not made as much progress on that as we need to. And that is
something I spent all of my time thinking about, is how can we get
opportunity to everybody so if they work hard, they can make it in this
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joy, Dr. King`s speech was nothing, if not optimistic.
Surely, we will hear some Obama optimism tomorrow.
REID: Yes. I mean, it was optimistic when he went on script, right?
I mean, that is something that we have to remember. Right. The scripted
remark that Dr. King was planning to deliver a 50 years ago tomorrow were
actually quite an indictment on the American sort of system are not really
forming that more perfect union that President Obama talked about a lot.
And you know, I think this is a president who is a policy-want at
heart. And I think that he sees even issue of racial and social justice
through the lens of policies. So you can probably expect him to couch a
lot of the idea of progress in the part of the March on Washington that was
about jobs and justice and economic justice.
And this is a White House that really does believe that their economic
policies, that health care reform, the head start, and early preschool and
pre-k education that these things actually are advancing social justice.
And they are going to probably see that argument expressed by the president
O`DONNELL: Dorian, the president has not gone out of his w to lower
expectations for a speech the way he did with Tom Joyner, which he really
had to do. I mean, he is the greatest speaker in our elected history, but
he knows this one is a very tough one to stand on the steps.
WARREN: That is right. And your colleague, Reverend Al Sharpton said
it earlier, he is not a civil rights leader. He can`t march on himself,
you know. He is a president. He plays a different role that what movement
leaders play. And so, he is very smart to lower expectations.
I will be very interested to see how much he talks about not only
economic justice, but also racial justice tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid and Dorian Warren. Joy, can`t wait to hear your
report of tomorrow`s experience.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
WARREN: Thank you.
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: MSNBC will air Martin Luther King Jr.`s "I have a dream
speech" in its entirety tomorrow night, exclusively at 8:00 eastern and
again at 11:00 p.m. eastern.
Coming up, the people who say Stop-and-Frisk is not unfairly treating
New Yorkers has never actually been stopped and frisked. Certainly, not as
many times as Kaseem Walters (ph), his story is in the rewrite.
O`DONNELL: In the 1988 Republican presidential primary campaign, Pat
Robertson placed third. He came in third, behind George Bush and Bob Dole.
Pat Robertson won four states in the primary`s Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada and
Washington. He won a total of 1,097,446 votes. And here is today`s
episode of stuff Pat Robertson says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAT ROBERTSON, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: San Francisco, some of
the gay community, that they want to get people, so they got the stuff they
will have a ring, you shake hands. And the ring has a little thing where
you cut your finger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, really. I mean, it is that kind of vicious
stuff which would be the same as murder.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That psychopath got 1,097,446 Republican votes for
president of the United States. The rewrite is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK CITY: Our crime strategies and
tools, including stop, question, and frisk have made New York City the
safest big city in America.
RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: New York city and its police
department have focused their crime fighting efforts to protect the poorest
members of our community who are disproportionately the victims of murder
and other violent crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But what if the NYPD`s widespread use of Stop-and-Frisk
violates the United States constitution? That was the question before
federal Judge Shira Sheindlin, not how effective an anti-crime tool stop
and crime is. That was not the question before the judge. But that
question was dealt with in the federal case where Stop-and-Frisk was not
proven to be a very effective crime fighting tool with a constitutional
problem. It was actually shown to be a surprisingly ineffective crime-
fighting tool with a constitutional problem.
The frisk part of stopping and frisking is all about guns. When
police reach into an African-American teenager`s pocket, that is what
they`re hoping to find. That is the goal of stop and frisk. Taking a gun
off the street or any other deadly weapons like knives. But no weapon is
as deadly as a gun. So a gun is the goal.
Of course, the cops are perfectly happy to find drugs in those pockets
to justify their stopping and frisking. But the cops have almost all used
those same drugs themselves, the very same drugs in their teenage years.
And they know that pulling a few joints out of a kid`s pocket is not
exactly stopping a major crime in progress.
But in the NYPD`s vast Stop-and-Frisk program, which could be called
the NYPD`s get the guns off our streets program, exactly 1.6 percent of the
frisks have produced weapons of any kind. And the statistics show that the
White people who are stopped and frisked are 40 percent more likely than
Black people to have one of those weapons. A whopping 1.4 percent of white
people frisked by the NYPD were revealed to be carrying a weapon of some
kind, not all of which were guns. While only one percent of black people
stopped by police were found to be carrying a weapon, it is that
astonishingly low yield that the mayor and the police commissioner want to
preserve and protect. And if it violates the constitution to them it is
still worth preserving.
And if Stop-and-Frisk violates basic human dignity, it is still worth
destroying. It is worth maintaining the relationship with the police
department, never mind that the best crime fighting tool of them all is
uniting the community support for law enforcement which can only happen in
communities that believe that the police respect them and are really there
to serve and protect them.
Today, the city of New York filed a request in court that the
implementation of judge Sheindlin`s opinion be delayed pending appeal. The
city`s lawyers said the judge`s decision was quote "rife with errors of
I don`t think it is. I think the Judge Sheindlin wrote a 195-page
thoughtful, careful opinion, which taught us a lot about how Stop-and-Frisk
is being used and abused in New York city. But the most important lessons
that I have learned about Stop-and-Frisk, all come from people who have
been stopped and frisked.
There was Nicolas Peart (ph), op-ed piece in "the New York Times"
which led me to invite him to join our first discussion of Judge
Sheindlin`s opinion on this program.
Tonight, I want to introduce you to Kaseem Walters, a Brooklyn high
school senior who has been stopped and frisked at least eight times.
Kaseem told his story to communities for United for Police Reform.
KASEEM WALTERS (PH), STOPPED AND FRISKED EIGHT TIMES: The first time
I was stopped and frisked, I was about 13-years-old. I was of course
leaving my house on the way to school to pick up a friend. My friend lives
about maybe a block and a half away from me. And I was walking up the
block. I made the left on New York avenue and was just waiting outside.
And then cops just pulled up. They were like oh, what are you doing? I
like I`m waiting for my friend. They were like he lives here? And I was
They went through in book bag, threw my stuff on the ground and all
that. They were just asking questions and being rough with me, telling me
where I would end up. You can end up in jail. And then they both became
very aggressive. Searching in my pockets, turning me around, pushing me,
forcing my legs open. Like yanking me.
So at that moment, I don`t know, I mean, I`m frightened. I definitely
was frightened, and confused, you know. The thing that changed for me
first is the way I looked at police. I couldn`t look at them the same. I
remember. It was bad to the point I got robbed, I didn`t call the police.
They scare you. So, they instill this fear in you and it forces you to
have the mindset that you`re a criminal. So you wake up, am I going to get
stopped? Maybe I should wear something so I don`t get stopped. Maybe I
should not wear a hoodie. If I see a cops, I was like should I cross the
street? I don`t want them to become suspicious, so I stay on the street
(INAUDIBLE). And that is something that you shouldn`t have to be paranoid
about it. I shouldn`t have to be afraid of my community.
After that point in time, I have probably been stopped and frisked
seven times. You know, I had a friend I was leaving the supermarket. And
he got stopped and frisked. I know friends that have given hi-five to each
other at bus stops, and the cops stop them thinking that they exchange
drugs. And I had a friend coming home from football practice and he had
glitz on him stuff like that. He was walking with a limp. So, I guess
because he had a limp, they thought he had a type of altercation and they
I mean, so the list goes on and on. It made me realize this is not a
going to school problem. This is a neighborhood problem. This is you`re a
young African-American male problem. This is (INAUDIBLE) problem.
If it happens to you once, you probably won`t get it. If it happens
to you under a random circumstance, you won`t get it. But you have to
understand that there are people who have been stopped over ten times.
There are people that had stopped over 20 times. And it is just something,
dehumanizing. No one wants that. Everyone go through that. Especially
when it is done in public, when it is done in front of family members, when
it is done in front of your own son or your own daughter or just your own
I think the police`s job is to get to know us. To make us feel like
we can go to them to make us feel like when we see them we don`t have to
walk across the street. When we see them, we can say what is up without
them thinking we mean it sarcastically. When you look around, you should
feel safe when you see a cop, you shouldn`t feel like you`re a target.
That is the main goal. That we should feel like citizens of New York and
O`DONNELL: When a good kid like Kaseem Walters tells his stories of
encounters with New York city cops, at least one of them, at least one
story should be a story of courtesy, professionalism, and respect.
O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell is facing one of the toughest times of his
career and it is not from a Democrat. That is next.
O`DONNELL: There is a new radio ad in Kentucky attacking Senate
minority leader Mitch McConnell. It was funded by a group of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Career Washington politician Mitch McConnell
claims to be a conservative. Would a conservative cut a back deal with the
Obama administration raising the debt ceiling by 4.2 trillion? No, but
McConnell did just that.
And would the conservative effort lead the effort to fund Obama care
in Washington? Absolutely not. But that is exactly w Mitch McConnell is
up to now.
After 28 years of Mitch McConnell claiming to be a conservative, but
then supporting big government policies, isn`t it time that the
conservatives dumped Mitch McConnell?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the online version of the ad, they have the
accompanying video, but from the radio, it is just the words. The ad by
the conservative buddy and conservative Madison project pact is the first
outside spending by Mitch McConnell in his primary race against tea party
candidate Matthew Bevin. McConnell campaign spokeswoman, Alison Moore,
told "the Washington Post," apparently Matt "bailout" Bevin has a small
cadre of fringe friends in Washington that concluded the conservative
governance isn`t half as important as making money off his quixotic senate
David Dickerson, the head of the Barron County tea party in Kentucky
told "Bright Part News," I don`t know where the senior senator gets off.
It appears to me that first of all they`re saying Matt Bevin is not
legitimate and now they are saying the people who are supporting Matt Bevin
are not legitimate. It looks to me like if you`re an opponent of Mitch
McConnell, Mitch McConnell just thinks you are not legitimate.
Joining me now, the legitimate Krystal Ball.
I have a question, Matt "bailout" Bevin, McConnell calls him. Why is
he bailout Bevin?
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: He had a business that was
destroyed by a fire, and then, at the request, actually, of state and local
officials he took state grants.
O`DONNELL: He took what?
BALL: I know. It is unbelievable.
O`DONNELL: Government money.
BALL: Horrifying, a government handout. "Bailout Bevin." You have
to say, though, McConnell is pretty good at this stuff.
O`DONNELL: So, here is, you know, the Republican leader of the Senate
having to deal with this and it is a serious threat.
BALL: It is a serious threat. I love that he went out and called
Bevin supporters "fringe." Because of course, if this is his base, these
are people that he created. And this Obamacare defunding program has
become a real litmus test on the right. Thanks, in part, to Mitch
McConnell. He was the one that actually raised the issue of including
Obamacare in the fiscal cliff negotiations that we had at the beginning of
the year. He called him (INAUDIBLE) He has been, obviously, convincing
people that the Obamacare implementation is the end of the world. So he
only has himself to thank for making people believe that Obamacare
implementation is the end of the world. But that funnels.
O`DONNELL: That`s what we are watching right? Boehner`s similar
problems, and he has got himself to thank for stimulating this crazy
section of the party.
BALL: Yes. That is exactly right. And you know, ultimately, I think
Mitch McConnell will probably win the primary. But that doesn`t mean he s
not going to be bruised and battered come the general election in the fall.
And look, we have seen these sorts of tea party challengers before who seem
like they don`t have a shot. And if we can get some momentum, before you
know, I mean, speeding McConnell up over the Obamacare defunding issue, he
can get some traction, you never know.
One thing McConnell has going for him is because of his relationship
with Rand Paul and also just because of the power that he wields, were
unlikely to see tea party express, we are unlikely to see the club for
growth and some of the larger national organizations get involved. So, at
least you got as that going for him.
O`DONNELL: But he is disking these people. I mean, they are saying,
look, I mean, anything McConnell says you`re not legitimate if you
BALL: Yes. Now, they can say it. He is part of the liberal elite
looking down his nose at you good American people.
O`DONNELL: The good Mitch McConnell, trouble.
BALL: You know, he speaks for the majority.
O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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