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PoliticsNation, Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

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December 3, 2013
Guest: Emanuel Cleaver; Lee Saunders, Ryan Grim, Goldie Taylor, Dana
Milbank, Michelle Ebanks

REV. AL SHARPTON, HOST: Good evening and thanks to you for tuning in.

Tonight`s Lead, taking big steps at the mouths of Right Wing attacks
over President Obama`s health care law. America has turned a corner. The
website is working. People are signing up and the reality of affordable
health care is coming to people all across this country.


OBAMA: The bottom line is, this law is working and will work into the
future. About half a million people across the country are poised to gain
health care coverage to marketplaces and Medicaid beginning on January 1st.
Some for the very first time. We know that. Half a million people.


SHARPTON: It is working. That`s the fact. That`s the fact
Republicans are hoping people won`t discover. That`s why the White House
is holding events every day between now and just before Christmas to
highlight the law`s benefits and push back against the right wing smears.

Tomorrow, they`ll focus on low cost preventive care. Thursday,
protecting people with pre-existing conditions. And Friday, slowing down
the growth of health care cost.

Polling on this law is always mixed because of Republicans` relentless
attacking. But when people see what the law actually does, they like it.
Eighty-one percent support the provision to close the mice doughnut hole
saving seniors on prescription drugs, 76 percent like letting young people
or young adults stay on their parents` insurance until they`re 26, 71
percent favor expanding Medicaid, and 66 percent are glad the law bans
insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing
conditions, 66 percent of Americans don`t agree on anything. But they
agree on this and every day more people are getting help.

The administration announced today nearly 1.5 million more people are
now eligible for Medicaid and the federal Web site`s getting better too.
In October, nearly 27,000 people signed up for insurance through That`s nearly quadrupled last month to 100,000. And
yesterday, one million people visited the Web site alone. There`s a huge
demand for better health care and President Obama has this challenge for
his critics.


OBAMA: If despite all the millions of people benefiting from it, you
still think this law`s a bad idea, then you`ve got to tell us specifically
what you`d do differently to cut costs, cover more people, make insurance
more secure.


SHARPTON: So what exactly would they do differently? Speaker
Boehner, take it away.


want to be able to pick their own type of health insurance. They want to
be able to pick their own doctor. They want to be able to pick their own
hospital. That`s what a patient-centered health care system will look

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Will that be up for vote in 2014? A bill
like that? Speaker, will that be up for a vote in 2014?

BOEHNER: We`ll see.


SHARPTON: We`ll see? That`s what you`ll tell the millions of
Americans who want affordable health care? We`ll see? That`s not good


OBAMA: You got good ideas, bring them to me. Let`s go. But we`re
not repealing it as long as I`m president.


SHARPTON: This law is working and is here to stay.

Joining me now are Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Democrat of Missouri,
and Richard Wolffe executive editor of

Thank you both for being here.


REP. EMANUEL CLEAVER (D), MISSOURI: Good to be here, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Congressman, have we now turned a corner on health care?

CLEAVER: I think we have. We are headed in the right direction. We
have problems at first. You know, Republicans saw a glitch or a calamity
in every glitch. And you know, I`ve got a 1-year-old granddaughter, and
even on thanksgiving day she had a number of little glitches. But we`re
not ready to throw her away because of a glitch here and there. Most
things in the beginning stages are going to be difficult to pull off.

One of the things that`s really sad, and I hope the American public is
seeing this. When Republicans are asked what is your replacement, what are
you going to propose? We`ll see is not a plan. It`s not a bill. You
can`t file we`ll see. You need a bill. It has to have content to it. And
that`s not going to happen. It`s one of these deals where they just
criticize and criticize and criticize and that`s it. And that is the plan.

SHARPTON: Now, you know, Richard, FOX News hyped up a story yesterday
on a New York family that said they looked for insurance on the state
exchange and were told their baby daughter wouldn`t be covered. Listen to


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is it possible that you go to look for an
insurance plan and the baby Erin is not covered. Can you us through that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a nightmare. The family plan pulled to
came back. We got 56 different quotes. And they offered coverage for
myself and my wife, our 6-year-old daughter, our 5-year-old daughter, our
3-year-old son, but our 1 1/2-year-old daughter was left off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being a parent, of course, and having four
children, to find out that your baby is not going to be on the plan is
quite distressing.


SHARPTON: Now, this is FOX News very distressing story.

Speaker Boehner even tweeted a link to this story too. But according
to capital New York, the family was just given bad information. Family
plans in New York covered the whole family. And the mix-up came because
their application originally only listed three of the family`s four
children when the error was discovered, it was fixed.

Now, as these bogus right wing stories get debunked, how will it
affect the debate about the law?

WOLFFE: Well, for starter, it hasn`t even passed the smell test.
This is a health care law that extends coverage to Adults up to the age of
26. So there`s a big definition from babyhood up to 26-year-old adults.

You know, the truth about health care is that it`s immune to the spin,
whether you`re on the White House side or the conservative echo chamber.
People will have their own experiences of a web site, of going to the
doctors, just like they do today. You can`t be John Boehner today and say
hey, people have their own free choice about doctors. Because anyone with
their own health care today know there are lots of restrictions on which
doctors to go to. There`s in network, there`s out of network. There`s
deductible, there`s out of pocket.

Health care is something people will experience on their own and
that`s why the right is so threatened by this because they know that as it
rolls out people are going to like what they see and it`ll never be

SHARPTON: You know, Congressman, what is amazing to me is that in the
middle of all of this and I understand the politics and the partisan back
and forward, but we are talking about people`s health that all of us no
matter what party, no matter what side of the id logical style you sit on
or whatever the divide is, all of us claim to love Americans.

Think Progress, let me give you an example of what bathers me, Think
Progress is reporting that California Republicans have created a Web site
that looks incredibly similar to the state exchange. But that spreads
misinformation saying things like the law means rationed care and it might
discourage companies from hiring. I mean, California has signed up more
people through its exchange through any other state.

Why would you play these dirty tricks, Congressman, that actually help
people not get health care denies people what they need.

CLEAVER: Well, these distortions are disturbing because it says that
people who oppose Barack Obama or the affordable care act are willing to do
anything. They will distort anything. And, you know, in a few years, I
hope that all of you in the media like yourself and others will make sure
that all of the footage is being, you know, put in a library away. Because
in a few years if you play back what many of these people are saying and
report on all the distortions that were going on, another generation will
laugh and say what kind of people were they?

Look, insurance is as was said earlier, it`s very personal. And
they`re making up things as they go. And the closer we get -- and this is
a sign things are getting better -- the closer we get the more distortions
we`re going to see. The more things like the United States is moving its
embassy out of the Vatican. I mean, that thing is going to go more and
more and more because it is working. And it has worked 7.1 million seniors
saw the doughnut hole close. That`s $8.3 billion.

SHARPTON: Richard, but it goes back to your point that you can`t
spend either way if something is working. For example, when the president
talks about as he did today, specific people that the law has helped -- let
me play this for you. This the kind of stuff you can`t make up or you
can`t debunk.


OBAMA: The other day I got a letter from Julia Walsh in California.
Earlier this year Julia was diagnosed with leukemia and lymphoma.

I have a lot of things to worry about, she wrote. But thanks to the
affordable care act there are lots of things I do not have to worry about.
Like whether there will be a lifetime cap on benefits, or whether my
treatment will bankrupt my family. I can`t begin to tell you how much that
peace of mind means. That`s what the affordable care act means to Julia.


SHARPTON: This kind of story about Julia told by the president of the
United States, this gives Republicans a real problem.

WOLFFE: Yes. And that`s why Republican governors are accepting the
Medicaid expansion, because they know it`s popular and they know people
will be happy when they get it. That`s why Mitt Romney at one point of his
campaign said of course my plan covers pre-existing conditions, even though
it didn`t. This stuffs popular.

As it rolls out, they know, Republicans know, even columnists like
Charles Krauthammer knows you cannot roll this back because once it there,
people will say wait a second. It is like the late night comedian that
went out on the street and said do you like Obamacare or the affordable
care act? People say, I like the affordable care act, don`t like
Obamacare. As they see the stuff come true, they are going to say no, this
thing is actually pretty good.

SHARPTON: No, but I mean, when you really, really think about it,
rooting against health care for American people, that is a heck of a
position for a political party.

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver and Richard Wolffe, thank you for your
time tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you, Reverend.

CLEAVER: Good to be with you.

SHARPTON: Still ahead, want a new sign Republicans are desperately
afraid of this president? They`re even bringing back that ugly talk about


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve also talked about the i-word, impeachment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our next guest said the effect of the
president`s action over the years rises to the level of an impeachable


SHARPTON: Also, courage for a cause. Why won`t John Boehner meet
with the brave activists who are camped out in the cold fasting for
immigration reform?

Plus, Bill O`Reilly saw his shadow last night and declared four more
weeks on the war on Christmas. We`ll look at what`s really behind the
right wing`s annual bogus tradition.

Big show tonight, so stay with us.


SHARPTON: Have you joined the "Politics Nation" conversation on
facebook yet? We hope you will. Today, I went to the mall in Washington
where pro-immigration activists are fasting for their cause. They`re an
amazing group. And today our facebook community weighed in on their push
for reform.

Ida says they are humans just like we are. They work just as hard as
we do for a living. They pay taxes and have to support their kids just
like we do. So why not pass the bill?

Richard supports reform too. Quote, "it`s the right thing to do."

We`ll have more on the fight next.

But first, we want you to weigh in. Head over to facebook and search
"Politics Nation" and like us to join the conversation that keeps going
long after the show ends.


SHARPTON: Speaker John Boehner wants you to know that he`s got the
Christmas spirit. Just moments ago he lit the official capital Christmas
tree on the national mall talking about the spirit of the holidays. But
literally just steps away are a group of people the speaker has refused to
speak with.

These activists have been camped out on the mall fasting for 22 days
to highlight the need to reform our broken immigration system and the call
on Boehner to allow a vote. Last month they held a candle light vigil
outside of Boehner`s home. They marched to his office on Capitol Hill.
They even went to his favorite diner. But the speaker apparently thinks
they`re not worth his time. He refused to meet with them.

This weekend the president and the first lady stopped by to offer
their support. And today I was there along with lawmakers like John Lewis
and Nancy Pelosi. I was honored to say the closing prayer of the ceremony
marking the commitment of a new round of activists who are fasting for the


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`ve been fasting now for 13 days without food.
We`ve been here to be able to demonstrate through our fasting through this
sacrifice the suffering that takes place.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do hope it moves the hearts of people here in
Washington, D.C. to act now. There is an urgency now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We won the polls. But up there, they`re blocking
democracy. They`re vetoing democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is so strange and disgraceful, shameful that in
the Congress we don`t have the courage -- what I call raw courage to pass
comprehensive immigration reform.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our system`s broken. It has to be fixed to save
the lives of these families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I teared up and I cried a little. I don`t know
what is in us as a nation, as a people that we cannot do the right thing.


SHARPTON: We must do the right thing. And the moral justice of the
cause will compel this do-nothing Congress to do the right thing too. Not
just on immigration, but on the basic issues of fairness and decency that
makes America great.

Joining me now is one of those leaders, Lee Saunders, president of
AFSCME union that which represents 1.6 million members. He was one of the
leaders at the immigration rally today.

Lee, thank you for joining me.

LEE SAUNDERS, PRESIDENT, AFSCME: Thanks for having me, Al.

SHARPTON: Do you think the moral example set by these activists
fasting in the cold on our national mall is helping to refocus the nation
on the immigration issue?

SAUNDERS: Well, I think that we`ve got to keep the pressure on in any
way possible. And these fasters, they`ve been on a fast for 22 days. And
they`ve passed that fast on to other individuals who feel strongly about
comprehensive immigration reform.

The best Christmas present that John Boehner could give all of us,
this entire country, is to provide comprehensive immigration reform for the
11 million people living under the shadows, in the shadows in this country.
That`s unacceptable in America. And he`s got to push for a vote. We urge
him to have a vote in the house and get this done.

SHARPTON: Now, the Senate has voted. All we need is a house vote.
And John Boehner won`t even meet with the group, Lee Saunders.

SAUNDERS: Well, that`s why we`ve got to keep the pressure on. This
is -- we aren`t forgetting about this. And no matter how long it will
takes, we will be at the Capitol, we will be in the streets across this
country. We need immigration reform now and we are not going to wait any
longer. We are not going to accept any other excuses. We`ve got to push
this agenda. We`ve got to push this as a priority across the country.

SHARPTON: You know, the support to a path for citizenship for illegal
immigrants supported 73 percent of Democrats support it, supported 60
percent of Republicans, 57 percent of independents. Politically, the
nation is supportive of this path to citizenship. But speaker Boehner has
refused to even speak with the immigration activists. But two young people
surprised him at a diner last month. Look at this, Lee.


CARMEN LIMA, 13-YEARS-OLD: : Hi. I`m Carmen Lima. I`m 13. And
you`re a father, right?


LIMA: So how would you feel if you had to tell your kids at the age
of ten that you were never coming home?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That wouldn`t be good. That wouldn`t be good.

LIMA: I know. So that`s what happened to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I`m trying to find a way to get this thing
done. It`s not easy. It`s not going to be an easy path forward.


SHARPTON: Immigration reform is not easy. That`s Boehner`s excuse
for not doing anything, Lee?

SAUNDERS: It`s not difficult at all, Al. I mean, you know and you
mentioned the polls where the majority of Americans believe that we need
comprehensive immigration reform. Boehner is standing in the way of a
house vote. Let the Congress people vote on comprehensive immigration
reform. If he lets them do that, I`m convinced that it will pass. They`ll
work with the Senate. And we would have done a great thing, a great thing
by enabling those 11 million people and their eight million folks and their
families to be treated equally, civil rights, human rights, dignity and to
obtain economic rights. We must do this as a country.

SHARPTON: Let me ask you while I have you, today a federal judge
cleared the way for Detroit to go bankrupt and ruled that pensions of city
workers can be cut as part of that bankruptcy. What is your reaction as
the international president of AFSCME?

SAUNDERS: Well, it`s a dark day. It is a dark in the city of
Detroit. It`s a dark day for those public servants workers there. It is a
dark day for the retirees who have worked 30 and 35 years, given their life
to public service in that city. Retirees who on average making $19,000 a
year are now exposed to potential cuts in their benefits.

I lay the blame completely with Governor Snyder. He`s the governor.
He`s the chief executive officer of that state. Pensions are a
constitutional right in that state. As the CEO, as the governor, we`ve got
to deal with the economic crisis in Detroit. But he should have removed
pensions from the table.

You don`t harm, you don`t attack individuals making $19,000 a year
putting a bulls eye on their back while you`re trying to achieve the goals
of Wall Street and Wall Street bankers. They aren`t going to be harmed.
They aren`t going to suffer. The folks who are going to suffer are those
retirees. And we think that`s unacceptable. This is not only a legal
question and we`re going to challenge this, we`re going to appeal it.

SHARPTON: What do you mean you`re going to challenge it? You`re
appealing the court decision?

SAUNDERS: We`re appealing the decision. We`re going to move it
hopefully to the circuit court. But this is also a moral question. What
kind of country are we? What kind of country do we want to be? I mean,
are you going to attack workers? Are you going to attack individuals
making $19,000 a year yet the Wall Street bankers skate through this
crisis? I think that`s wrong. And we got to mobilize our communities and
organized and educate our communities and say this is unacceptable and
should not be done.

SHARPTON: All right. We`ll be watching that one as it unfolds.

Lee Saunders, thank you so much for your time tonight.

SAUNDERS: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: We will b right back.


SHARPTON: The health care law is turning a corner. And Republicans
are running scared. How can you tell? They`ve gone back to their old
impeachment playbook. That`s next.


SHARPTON: From the first day of this presidency, the right wing has
been hell bent on getting rid of President Obama. Impeach him, they say.
And no issue has driven this impeachment talk more than the president`s
signature achievement, health care. Forget that it`s starting to help
millions of Americans, it`s an impeachable offense.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Our next guest says the effects of the
president`s actions over the years rises to the level of an impeachable


SHARPTON: An impeachable offense. Granted, that`s FOX News, but it
might as well be the Republican Party. Today the house GOP held a hearing
on the president`s failure to execute the nation`s laws. During it,
Congressman Darrell Issa, a man who`s been on a witch hunt against this
administration from day one actually compared the president to Nixon. And
this birther congressman came right out with it.


REP. BLAKE FARENTHOLD (R), TEXAS: We`ve also talked about the "I"
word, the impeachment, which again I don`t think would get past the Senate
in the current climate. Am I missing anything?


SHARPTON: Here`s what you`re missing. You have no grounds to impeach
the president. And let`s be honest. This isn`t just about health care.
Oh, no. That`s one of the reasons they want to impeach him. But the truth
is they are willing to impeach him on any grounds. Just listen to them


FARENTHOLD: Then you can insert whatever you want. Benghazi, Fast
and Furious, the IRS targeting of advocacy groups, NSA overreach, if you
like your health care you can keep it.

REP. LOUIE GOHMERT (R), TEXAS: The president ordered Anwar al Awlaki
killed by drone strike.

REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R), VIRGINIA: The president effectively enacted
the dream act himself.

REP. TRENT FRANKS (R), ARIZONA: The deep water drilling ban, Mr.
Holder`s attempt to reform criminal justice by selectively enforcing our
laws, Mr. Obama`s unilaterally ignoring immigration laws in many cases.


SHARPTON: What is that? Ten reasons? Here`s a message for the GOP,
you want your way? Forget hearings. Forget nullifying laws. Forget
impeachment. Go out and win an election.

Joining me now are Ryan Grim and Goldie Taylor. Thank you both for
coming on the show tonight.


RYAN GRIM, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Thanks for having me.

SHARPTON: Ryan, what do Republicans hope to gain by talking about
impeachment when they know it`s not going to happen?

GRIM: Well, people like Congressman Farenthold are fitting their
base. You know, these are people who and Paul said, they don`t even think
the president was born here. That he`s not a legitimate president and that
they want him out one way or another. They couldn`t beat him in `08,
couldn`t beat him in 2012. He`ll leave in 2016, but they`re too impatient
for that. You know, this is been something that they`ve been on and
they`ll be on it I think until the day that he finally leaves office.

SHARPTON: You know, Goldie, when the GOP rolls out the reasons they
wanted to impeach the president, I mean, for any variety of reasons.
Because he wasn`t born here. Because of immigration reform. The Defense
of Marriage Act and Fast and Furious, and not extending the Bush tax cuts,
over his recess appointments, the Dream Act, the war in Libya, gun control,
Benghazi. And because of quote, "all the czars he`s appointed." I mean,
it`s amazing.

TAYLOR: It`s amazing that the kitchen sink isn`t in there.

SHARPTON: I didn`t get to it.

TAYLOR: Maybe it is. Maybe we haven`t looked closely enough. You
know? And I think Ryan Grim is right about this. This has never truly
been about any of these issues. This is about nullification of this
president. Nullification of any of his agenda that`s enacted including the
Affordable Care Act. It`s never been about providing a health care to
millions of uninsured Americans. If that were true, Republicans would have
come up with a counter plan. With a comprehensive set of reforms that they
knew could provide more insurance to people who needed health care. And
so, this is never been about that. This is about Benghazi.

If this was about Benghazi, we would have been talking about Bush
lying his way into wars for more than 4,000 men and women our service
members died. And so, this is not about that. This is about
delegitimatizing this president. And so, and the second part of this is
this is about winning the next election. Very localized gerrymandered
districts that they are fitting the base to get themselves re-elected
again. The problem with that is the tent draws so small that they can`t
win a national election on this basis. And so they had better get right
and get right soon, or they`re going to be, you know, sort of irrelevant
for the next several cycles.

SHARPTON: But Ryan, it`s not just crazy talk as crazy as it may
sound. They`re talking the legal talk here. Congresswoman Michele
Bachmann said on FOX today that the president has rewritten the
constitution for himself. Listen to her.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: He doesn`t want to be bound by
any law, and that`s the rub. The constitution says no man is above the law
including the president of the United States. He has rewritten the
constitution for himself as a part of his effort to fundamentally transform
the United States of America.


SHARPTON: So, I mean, with these kind of charges, I don`t know how
she claims he has rewritten it, but it begins the legal basis of trying to
have a serious kind of discussion that is outrageous, Ryan.

GRIM: Sure. And she just lives in another world here. Because you
know, in the real world where the rest of us live, you know, there are
progressive immigration activists who are, you know, begging the president
to slow down on deportations because comprehensive immigration reform can`t
get through the house. And Obama says, look, the laws are on the books.
It`s my job to carry out these laws. You know, if I could, I would stop
these deportations. You know, that`s what he told the heckler recently at
the speech. So, you know, Michele Bachmann`s idea that Obama does anything
that he wants, flies in the face of the fact that he is not doing the very
thing that he says he wants to do and that his base wants him to do.

SHARPTON: Well, you know, Goldie, when you look at the fact that
Ryan`s talking about hecklers, we remember when Congressman Joe Wilson
called the president a liar in the middle of the State of the Union
Address. Now the number two Republican in the Senate is calling the
president a liar. He says, quote, "I think the current administration has
taken lying to a new level." Now, when you look at that and the claims
that he`s operating imperial, I mean, the president has made it very clear
that he`s not a king. And that he cannot act without Congress. Listen to
this, Goldie.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: I am not a dictator. I`m the
president. So ultimately if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say, we need
to go to catch a plane, I can`t have secret service block the doorway. If
in fact, I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress,
then I would do so. But we`re also a nation of laws. That`s part of our

It is not simply a matter of us just saying we`re going to violate the
law. That`s not our tradition.


SHARPTON: Not our tradition, not what he`s trying to do, not what
he`s done despite having record numbers of obstructions to things as
simple as appointments that he would make that any president would be
allowed to make given his own choice.

TAYLOR: Sure. You know, I think this president both understands and
embraces the rule of law. He understands that he has a bicameral Congress
that he has to deal with. And that that Congress has tried to obstruct him
at every turn. And so in turn he has used every means available to him to
advance his agenda. And that sometimes includes an executive order. Those
things, those tools, those very legal tools that are available to him.


TAYLOR: And to say this president has somehow broken the law, has
somehow flouted, you know, the rule of law in this country really is a
misnomer. What has really has happened here is that this Republican
Congress has pushed things to the very hilt trying to distract us from
creating jobs. Trying to distract us from comprehensive immigration
policy. Trying to distract us from, you know, those repressive voting laws
they`re enacting around this country.


SHARPTON: Well, also has really happened what has them angry is that
the country has supported the president on these policies. I mean, Ryan,
if they want to impeach somebody, they have to impeach most of the country.
Because 92 percent supported universal background checks following the
Newtown tragedy. So the president issued some executive orders. Eighty
two percent think America is losing the war on drugs. So, his justice
department has changed mandatory minimum loss. Seventy seven percent
support Path to Citizenship. So, the president used executive actions to
make immigration policy more fair. He never went outside of his
constitutional powers, but he tried to address issues that the American
people were asking for.

GRIM: Right. And I think that`s where some of this political
nihilism that you see comes from. You know, for the core members of the
more extreme elements of the Tea Party, they see themselves kind of, you
know, quote, unquote, "losing their country." They see this rising
ascended multi-cultural coalition and they don`t like it. And they feel
like they`re losing something. And, you know, so that is why I think there
are some of them that are willing to actually, you know, hurt the economy.
They feel like there needs to be almost, like a punishment for the country
because it has sinned.

SHARPTON: Yes. I`m going to have to leave it there, Ryan. Thank you
for your point. It was a good point. And thank you Goldie for being on
the show tonight. Thank you, both.

GRIM: Thanks for having us.

TAYLOR: Thank you, Reverend.

SHARPTON: Coming up, the holidays are here and so is the right wing
war on Christmas. We`ll show you why it`s really about the culture wars.
And a party afraid of change.


SHARPTON: The holiday season is finally here. The world famous tree
here at Rockefeller Center will be lit tomorrow night. The music is
playing and so is a tradition like no other. Yes, that`s right. It`s time
for the annual right wing war on the war on Christmas. Because nothing
says holiday cheer like this.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: The war on Christmas centralizes. That
is the subject of this evening`s talking point`s memo. As you know, there
are some Americans who are offended by any reference to Jesus Christ. Why
are we allowing anti-Christmas madness? Over the years, we`ve taken on the
role of protecting the federal holiday of Christmas.


SHARPTON: It just warms my heart seeing that back on TV. Reminds me
of years passed. The warm memories.


O`REILLY: We are pretty much the only ones covering the so-called war
on Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Let`s talk about the war on Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You haven`t heard of the war on Christmas?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I`m all about free speech and free rights just
not on December 25th.


PALIN: We`ll have Christ back on Christmas and hopefully it won`t
offend you.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The war on Christmas is back as well.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We`re not nuts, are we? There is a war on


SHARPTON: It seems just like yesterday we were hearing this far right
holiday tradition. But let`s get back to the courageous warrior. He was
making his list and checking it twice.


O`REILLY: Everything was swell up until about ten years ago when
creeping secularism and pressure groups like the ACLU began attacking the
Christmas holiday. The demanded the word Christmas be removed from
advertising and public displays, and many people caved into that. So now
we have the happy holidays syndrome.


SHARPTON: No, oh, no. Not the happy holidays syndrome.


O`REILLY: What is interesting this year is that Hanukkah will be over
on Thursday, so there are no more holidays between then and Christmas day.
It`s just Christmas. If you want to invoke "happy." Bad news for the
secular progressives.


SHARPTON: Oh, those secular progressives. As a non-secular
progressive, let me wish everyone happy holidays. Or should I say Happy

Joining me now is Dana Milbank. And Dana, let me also be the first to
wish you happy holidays. I think the right just doesn`t like the idea of a
change in America.

DANA MILBANK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": And a Happy Hanukkah to you,

SHARPTON: What do you think about this war on Christmas is really all
about as you sit there in your holiday regalia?

MILBANK: I do have my holiday regalia on and I want to wish you both
a Happy Hanukkah and a happy New Year. Look, this is --

SHARPTON: Look, Happy Kwanzaa, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah.

MILBANK: Exactly, all of those things.

SHARPTON: I say it all, and am I progressive. And a capital P.

MILBANK: Excellent. This is the season for old chestnuts, roasting
at an open fire. So, we have to have father Christmas Bill O`Reilly come
out and do this each year. It really wouldn`t be the same without him sort
of like Santa and the reindeer. You know, as a kid I always looked forward
to "Charlie Brown`s Christmas" coming on TV and now I look forward to Bill
O`Reilly doing the war on Christmas which if it ever existed, it has not
existed and as long as I can remember. I think it has a lot less to do
with holidays and then trying to make Liberals look as if they are godless.
And I think the very fact that I`m having this discussion with a reverend
would suggest that that`s probably not working out too well.

SHARPTON: You know, I want to put up a tweet for the National
Republican Congressional Committee advertising shirts over the holiday
weekend that said happy holidays is what Liberals say. And the back said
Merry Christmas. After some criticism, they replaced it with a shirt that
says I`m not afraid to say Merry Christmas. Dana, what does something like
this do for a party that says they want to rebrand itself?

MILBANK: Well, it seems each day we`re having another one of these
episodes. They, you know, want to improve race relations and they have
that errant tweet about Rosa Parks. Now they`re trying to score some
points with their base and they wind up offending people who are saying,
what`s wrong with being happy during the holidays? So, they did retreat
somewhat from that and have made it more a pro-Christmas message rather
than an anti-holidays message. But, you know, as you showed in your
earlier segment about, you know, riling up the base for all the reasons for
impeachment, this is another example of just trying to rile up the base in
what might otherwise be a joyful season.

SHARPTON: You know, let`s listen to what I called the real war on


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Look at poverty in this country.
Everybody out of work is eating. They`ve got big screen TV, probably have
a car, probably have a cell phone.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Minimum wage is something that the government uses
to force employers to pay low-end employees more than they`re worth.

GLENN BECK, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I`ve got news for you, in other
countries, they`re not washing their clothes and sitting in air
conditioning watching their big screen TV. They`re dying. That is poor.

O`REILLY: My contention is that the Obama administration is
encouraging parasites to come out and, you know, take as much as they can
with no remorse.


SHARPTON: I mean, to me, Dana, that`s the real war on Christmas.
When you dump on the poor or unsensitive to them and say nothing about
those that are making record profits, that`s the war on Christmas. I`ve
got to go though.


SHARPTON: Thank you, Dana. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and
enjoy the holidays.

MILBANK: You too.

SHARPTON: Up next, a big announcement from Essence Magazine. Stay
with us.


SHARPTON: We have a big announcement about the 20th anniversary of
the Essence Festival. That`s next.


SHARPTON: Fierce, fun, fabulous. Words that define Essence Magazine.
For almost half a century, Essence has been known and better known as the
black woman`s bible for life. And for nearly two decades, the Essence
Festival has brought together the brightest stars for a summer weekend to
remember. Last summer MSNBC was proud to sponsor the festival broadcasting
live from New Orleans. And we can`t wait to do it again. This summer will
be the 20th anniversary, and there are some big surprises planned.

Joining me now is Michelle Ebanks, president of Essence Communication.
Michelle, thanks for being here tonight.

Thank you so much for having me here. We are so excited. We were thrilled
last year with the festival, this past festival, but we are over the moon
with the 20th anniversary come July 4th weekend.

SHARPTON: Now, let me say this. This will probably be the largest
gathering of African-American female voters during the midterm elections.
Because we`ll be right in the middle of July.

EBANKS: That`s right.

SHARPTON: .midterm elections. I can`t think of any event that will
draw that many African-Americans as well as African-American females right
in the middle of the midterm elections.

EBANKS: And we`re especially excited, because the first weekend in
July 50 years ago was when the civil rights act of 1964 was signed.


EBANKS: And so we will be back the first week in July 50 years later,
and we will recommit ourselves to that purpose of that civil rights
opportunity act. So we`re excited.

SHARPTON: Now, we got it`s the 20th anniversary. It`s going to be
around voting 50 years after the civil rights act. But one thing that is
always off the chain is the entertainment.


SHARPTON: But I said that there`s no way you could beat last year
because you had Beyonce.


SHARPTON: But you did. We`re announcing tonight you have Prince next

EBANKS: Prince will headline our Essence Festival for 2014. He was
our headliner ten years ago for the tenth anniversary, and he is back. We
are honored, excited, and even more emboldened than ever that this will be
the biggest party and will position us to achieve our purpose in 2014.

SHARPTON: As you look back now as someone that wasn`t even around
when Essence was founded and you see where we are today in the midst of
this is the middle of the second term of the first African-American
president, you`re hosting such a huge gathering. It shows how far the
country`s come, but also how far we still need to go.


SHARPTON: Right there in New Orleans, all of the crime, a lot of the
cities that you draw from.

EBANKS: That`s right.

SHARPTON: People take that weekend really deal with getting away from
the stress but also finding a purpose on how to deal with it.

EBANKS: That`s right. Absolutely. And that`s an African-American
tradition. For centuries we celebrate what has been accomplished. So much
has been accomplished. Especially in the last 50 years. And with African-
American women who were leading the conversation of being in the workplace,
of leading diversity in America, of voting, all of these issues are
important. So we have a great celebration as we look behind and we
celebrate all of those, you know, whose shoulders we stand on. But we
recommit ourselves to the future. Because we know we are not done yet.
And we look around and turn to each other. And we are inspired and

SHARPTON: We`re gearing up early, and we`re ready to go. Michelle
Ebanks, president of Essence Communications. Thanks for being here
tonight. We look forward to seeing you this summer in New Orleans. And
you can find all the information about the Essence Festival on our website,

Thanks for watching. I`m Al Sharpton. "HARDBALL" starts right now.


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