'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, December 12, 2013
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 12, 2013
Guest: Kate Segal, Ana Marie Cox, Malve Reston; Norm Ornstein; Thomas
ALEX WAGNER, GUEST HOST: You are about to see just how different
Republicans and Democrats are when it comes to dealing with things that are
hard, like governing.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The ayes are 332,000.
The motion is agreed to.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is being seen as a workable compromise,
although not by everyone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A list of senators who oppose the measure now
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Marco Rubio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Rand Paul.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Tom Coburn.
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: He has led to make a compromise that
sells out what actually needs to be done.
BOEHNER: Are you kidding me?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The light is glaring on Speaker Boehner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boehner actually got angry yesterday.
BOEHNER: They`ve lost all credibility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lashing out publicly to conservative groups.
BOEHNER: I came here to cut the size of government. That`s exactly
what this bill does.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A notable shift in Speaker Boehner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where was that man in October?
BOEHNER: I`m as conservative as anybody around this place.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is trying to thread the needle. He is a
BOEHNER: I`m as conservative as anybody around this place.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No one is going to question his conservative
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I think it really captured
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Remember a lot of Democrats too are not happy.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Democrats usually are being more
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People with a grip on reality are reasserting
BOEHNER: The House will be in order. The House will be in order.
The House will be in order. Members will please take their seats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a representative city. You know what,
don`t tell what`s to do.
BOEHNER: I don`t care what they do.
WAGNER: Good evening. I am Alex Wagner, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.
It`s on. Get the popcorn. And get ready for Ted Cruz versus John
Boehner round two.
Today, Speaker Boehner went to bat for the Paul Ryan/Patty Murray
budget deal to replace the sequester.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: I came here to fight for a smaller, less costly, more
accountable federal government. And, this budget agreement takes giant
steps in right direction. Why conservatives wouldn`t vote for this, or
criticize the bill, is, is, beyond any recognition I could come up with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: After Boehner said that and before House Republicans went to
vote, Ted Cruz released a list of reasons explaining why he would not vote
for it. "The new budget deal moves in the wrong direction. It spends
more, taxes more, and allows continued funding for Obamacare. I cannot
As final debate on the bill was taking place, in fact, right around
time that Boehner himself was defending the deal on the House floor --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: I urge all of my colleagues to vote for this budget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: -- Ted Cruz tweeted this. "Understanding the budget deal in
two words", what followed was a link to this YouTube clip.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
WAGNER: When the vote was called shortly after, 62 House Republicans
took the Ted Cruz position and voted against the Boehner/Ryan budget deal.
The deal passed 332-94; 169 Republicans voted for it, and 62 Republicans
voted no. Without those 45 Democrats, and their leader, Nancy Pelosi,
Speaker Boehner would not have gotten to 214. The number needed for
And while the struggle between Boehner and Cruz and the power of the
Pelosi is nothing particularly new for this Congress, this week marks a
decidedly new chapter in the Republican on Republican war. And as press
conference before the vote, Boehner continued his now 24-hour long battle
against the far right-wing of his party. And more specifically, the
outside groups that control it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOEHNER: It`s not everything I wanted. When groups come out and
criticize an agreement they have never seen, you begin to wonder just how
credible those, those actions are. When you criticize something and you
have no idea what you`re criticizing, it undermines your credibility.
Frankly, I think they`re misleading their followers. I think they`re
pushing our members in places where, they don`t want to be. And frankly I
just -- I think, that -- they have lost all credibility.
You know, they pushed us into this fight to defund Obamacare and shut
down the government. Most of you know, my members know, I wasn`t exactly
the strategy that I had in mind. But if you will recall, the day before
the government reopened, one of the people, one of these groups, stood up
and said, well we never really thought it would work. Are you kidding me?!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Side note, they pushed us into this fight to defund
Obamacare. We`ll get to that in a second.
But, first, the reaction from them was swift and it was merciless.
From FreedomWorks, "When it comes to credibility, actions speak louder
than words. And right now, it looks like the speaker is leading the charge
for spending increases and recruiting Democrat votes to help get it done.
FreedomWorks has key voted against the Ryan/Murray budget disappointment."
From the Tea Party Patriots, "Speaker Boehner thinks outside groups
are the problem. Pitting your colleagues against your constituents is how
you lose credibility with your conference. Not upholding conservative
principles is how you lose credibility with the voters who will find
something else if you are not willing to do your job."
From the Senate Conservatives Fund, "John Boehner has apparently
decided to join Mitch McConnell in the war on conservatives. Conservatives
everywhere need to understand that the party`s leadership has declared war
From Erick Erickson, "A guy who says he`d hold the line on
sequestration says those who believed him have lost their credibility."
Eriksson also posted on the "Red State" Web site, Boehner`s done as
speaker. "This all has -- this is all legacy building now. If he has to
cry on television, and attack his conservative base, he`ll do it."
And from Rush Limbaugh on Facebook, "I`ll be darned, just seems like
the Republican Party is absorbed, is consumed, with eliminating any
conservative influence inside the party whatsoever.
Joining me now, NBC News Capitol Hill correspondent Luke Russert, and
David Axelrod, former adviser to President Obama and MSNBC political
David, what have we witnessed? Have we witnessed the emergence of a
swamp dwelling amphibian on terra firma as a reptile in the real world? Is
it the new John Boehner?
DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the old adage
says, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." This --
they had a catastrophic experience, near death experience in the fall when
they were led over the cliff by Ted Cruz and the Tea Party. And shut the
And I think that they made a calculation that this was enough. I
think Paul Ryan taking the point on it was helpful to him. But, you know,
this is -- it comes in a week when you see this trench warfare between all
the challengers to Republican incumbent senators. You know, there seems to
be -- a -- a showdown coming in 2014 between the different wings of the
And I think how that comes out will have a lot to do not just with how
Congress operates, but how the 2016 presidential race goes.
WAGNER: You know, Luke, pundits and house GOP watchers have been
predicting this kind of -- I won`t call it a breakdown -- but this
catharsis for some time. And what shocked me is that line that Boehner
spoke earlier today. They pushed us into shutting down the government.
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS: Shocking, right.
WAGNER: That was a shocking admission, I thought.
RUSSERT: It was extraordinary. And a lot of us have been waiting for
this moment to happen because GOP leadership aide said through the shutdown
and for other issues, where the outside groups pushed the conference into
areas they did not want to be, that they did not want to do this, that this
is sort of they had to take care of their members who are more
conservative. And that`s 62 number who vote against that, that`s about the
apocalyptic caucus that we often talk about, adding in those who are
influenced by them.
Three things happened here specifically.
One, Boehner was livid that the groups came out against this deal
before reading it, which he said.
Number two, Paul Ryan is like a son to John Boehner. So, for Paul
Ryan to go out there and work hard on this deal in the eyes of John Boehner
and for those outside groups to rip him up after he put forward two budgets
that had a lot of controversial things, that a lot of Democrats could take
folly with, attacking the GOP, Boehner thought was absurd.
Number three they see from our NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" polling,
health care as a huge liability for Democrats still. The public has weeded
out (ph) President Obama while the issue is out there. Any GOP, in
fighting and not passing two years of freedom from government shutdowns,
that looks silly and hurts them a lot in 2014, another thing Boehner wanted
to move away from.
WAGNER: David, it is worth keeping in mind this was as much as it was
a, a sort of small ball budget, it was still in some ways -- a heavy lift
for Democrats, and extension of unemployment, long term unemployment
benefits was not in this. That, that upset a lot of -- House progressives
and House Democrats. Nancy Pelosi once again got Democrats to, effectively
sort of cross party lines in the House at least, given that Paul Ryan
imprimatur on this.
I wonder what you think about -- whether you know, Nancy Pelosi said
earlier, embrace the suck, we need to get this off the table, so we can go
forward -- Democrats have done a lot of embracing the suck, and the budget
we`re at now is way closer to where Paul Ryan wants to the House to be than
it from where the house progressive caucus, for example, would like us to
AXELROD: Which is, of course, what Paul Ryan`s point was to all those
Tea Party people. Look, the reality is that we do have a divided
government. And the question is what is the alternative. This is far
better than what would have happened, absent with the sequestration level
going down to 967. It does restore some spending cuts that were made that
made no sense and were very destructive. It is disappointing, that
unemployment insurance isn`t in there.
But I think Americans are really eager not to be facing crisis after
crisis after crisis. And it is true the Democratic Party has been more
responsible than the Republican Party. I think people recognize that.
But there really wasn`t an alternative here, a better alternative than
this one I think Democrats did the right thing. Nancy Pelosi did the right
thing by going along with it.
WAGNER: Luke, what does this portend? I mean, we know that Boehner
has appointed or brought on to his staff McCain`s former immigration reform
guru. Do you think that this is a signal that maybe Boehner will be more
willing to buck the conservative members of his base and go forward with
more bipartisan legislation?
RUSSERT: Possibly. I think that`s sort of the million dollar
question, coming out of this. Immigration is still difficult. I point to
how conservatives threw Marco Rubio under the bus. He was their darling
for working on that bill. He had to say I`m basically sorry, ala what they
did to Paul Ryan on this bill.
But Boehner has been just as vocal against that Senate bill as the
outside conservative groups. I`d say moving forward with this, this does
give credence to, the possibility of a farm bill, where both sides are a
lot of closer than folks think. Obviously, food stamp issue.
Immigration, it is still under the guidance of Bob Goodlatte. He is
the Virginia 6th House conservative. His district is 3.9 percent Latino.
Majority of GOP districts have 12 percent Latinos or less. It`s still a
very difficult issue. It`s a cultural issue for their conference. One
they`re not going to move on, I suspect in a comprehensive way next year.
WAGNER: David, one last one to you, which is -- you have talked about
political kabuki theater. And part of me thinks, well, here we are talking
what a statesman John Boehner is. The more that the White House, or the
left, or Democrats or moderates say, good job John Boehner, I think it
actually undermines his position in the Republican Party, right? Because
no matter which way you slice it, things are so partisan at this point,
that if the Republicans see Boehner as too conciliatory and too much of a
deal maker, he really will be ousted as speaker.
AXELROD: Well, and let me say that -- while we give him -- it was
refreshing to see him push back today after a couple years of the tail
wagging -- the dog, it`s still, took a couple years -- to do it. And so,
you know I`m not -- this is not a time to nominate him for the Nobel Prize
for legislative leadership. I think he is a long way from that.
But I do think there are all kinds of harbingers, Alex, including, by
the way, the Republican National Committee quietly working to change its
rules for 2016 to reduce the influence of these caucuses and rules that
favor Tea Party candidates to move the convention back in the year, so that
they have time to pivot to a general election campaign. There are all
kinds of signs that establishment Republicans, Senate right Republicans are
trying to seize control of their party.
And I think Boehner is part of that effort right now.
WAGNER: Trying to bring the party out of the primordial ooze, as it
David Axelrod and Luke Russert --
RUSSERT: Easier said than done.
WAGNER: Yes, indeed.
Thank you both for your time.
RUSSERT: Thank you.
WAGNER: Coming up, a Republican state legislature has just voted to
make women get special insurance for a medical procedure -- call it women
insurance. That is coming up.
And I`ll ask Nancy Pelosi if she has theories about what made the
Congress the worst congress ever.
WAGNER: Tonight, we are one step closer to being allowed to use
cellphones on airplanes. Insert your own anguished wail here.
The Federal Communications Commission voted today to consider ending
the ban to in-flight phone calls. Earlier this week, the Department of
Transportation weighed in on the issue and said that many that in flight
calls may not be fair to other passengers.
Up next, the state of Michigan passes a law to require rape insurance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE SEN. GRETCHEN WHITMER (D), MICHIGAN: For those of you who wt to
act aghast like I would use a term like rape insurance to describe the
proposal here in front of us, you should be even more offended that it`s
absolutely accurate description of what this proposal requires. By moving
forward on this initiative, Republicans want to essentially require
Michigan women to plan ahead and finally invest in health care coverage for
potentially having their bodies violated and assaulted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Ladies of Michigan, in about 90 days, you may need to buy
yourself rape insurance, after both the Michigan House and Senate yesterday
passed legislation banning private insurance companies from offering
abortion coverage, unless a woman buys a separate abortion insurance rider,
that includes women whose pregnancies were caused by rape and possibly
certain women who need to terminate their pregnancies because of
The only abortion insurance companies will be allowed to cover without
a rider would be to save the mother`s life. Last year, Michigan`s
Republican led state legislature passed similar legislation but Republican
governor, Republican governor, Rick Snyder vetoed the bill saying, quote,
"I don`t believe it is appropriate to tell a woman who becomes pregnant due
to a rape that she needs to select elective coverage. And as a practical
matter, I believe this type of policy is an overreach of government into
the private market."
But this time, Michigan`s Right to Life group presented the bill
through the state`s obscure citizens initiative process, which means the
governor cannot veto it.
Before yesterday`s vote, Senate minority leader, Gretchen Whitmer,
took to the floor. And seven minutes into her speech, put down her notes
and said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WHITMER: There are people in this chamber that have lived through
things you can`t even imagine. I have a colleague I was trying to
encourage to tell his story, but he is still grieving. And it was a
planned pregnancy that went awry and required a DNC.
And I started to think about that. I thought I can`t push one of my
colleagues to share a tough story if I`m not brave enough to share one of
So I am about to tell you something I have not shared with many people
in my life. But over 20 years ago, I was a victim of rape. And thank God
it didn`t result in a pregnancy, because I can`t imagine -- going through
what I want through and then having to consider what to do about an
unwanted pregnancy from an attacker. And as a mother with two girls, the
thought that they would ever go through something look I did keeps me up at
I thought this was all behind me. You know how tough I can be. The
thought and memory of that still haunts me. If this were law then and I
had become pregnant. I would not be able to have coverage because of this.
How extreme -- how extreme does this measure need to be? I`m not the
only woman in our state who has faced that horrible circumstance. I have
not enjoyed talking about. It`s something I have hidden for a long time.
But I think you need to see the face of the women that you are
impacting by this vote today. I think you need to think of the girls that
we are raising and what kind of a state we want to be where you would put
your approval on something this extreme.
I ask that you at least let the people of the state have a vote on
this. Don`t ram it through using some loophole that it`s going to impact
100 percent of the women in this state and 4 percent of the people signed
on to a petition. Let the people decide. Let the people of Michigan
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Joining me, Michigan Democratic State Representative, Kate
Segal, and "The Guardian`s" Ana Marie Cox.
Kate, I`d like to go to you first.
I think for the rest of the country, we are shocked and dismayed this
is happening. Unfortunately, it is not only happening in Michigan. There
are eight other states where such, similar provisions have gone through.
But, talk to us if you will about this citizens initiative. I think a lot
of us are confused as to how 3 percent of Michigan`s population could have
-- sort of supported this ballot measure, or this measure, and gotten it
through the state house.
ST. REP. KATE SEGAL (D), MICHIGAN: It`s definitely a loophole. It`s
only been used twice before, unfortunately, also to take away women`s
rights. So, what they were able to do put it through the legislature, with
just 4 percent of the people. And sat there, they had 40 days to act.
If our legislature went back on Christmas break, came back in January,
and let it go, the voters would have had the decision before them in
November. But instead, I think they took the cowardly way out. They took
a vote yesterday that put women in Michigan as second-class citizens.
WAGNER: Ana, this is -- you know, this is not -- this is not the
first time we have talked about the strange, draconian, anachronistic,
repressive, misogynist legislation that is weirdly sweeping the country
targeting women and their reproductive freedoms. There are nine states
that ban abortion at 20 weeks, much like this. These are women -- the
women who tend to seek either abortions with insurance coverage or abortion
at 20 weeks are in some kind of medical duress. This is not just a
haphazard decision, no abortion is.
ANA MARIE COX, THE GUARDIAN: Right.]
WAGNER: What do you think culturally it accounts for this?
COX: You know, it is mind-boggling to me. I think when -- when the
senator said that she wanted people to see the face of the women, the
impact, it`s every woman that this law would impact, because I think more
to the point, this is about, you know -- making it more difficult for women
to get abortions. But it`s sending this message that is so disturbing
which is that somehow rain is your fault.
COX: You know, some how you should know that it is going to happen.
That somehow it is possible for you to live a life where you are never
going to be sexually assaulted. And that`s not true. You know, we don`t
have control over that. It`s men that control that. It`s them that do
this to us and we then have to respond in some way.
It`s also making abortion in the choice to have an abortion look like
an elective surgery. Look like a facelift. You know, look like something
that you -- that is frivolous, which is something that I think a lot of
anti-choice activists really rely on. They make it look like women who
choose to get abortions are doing it, because they just don`t want to be
pregnant it will ruin their body or something.
When really and I`m sure you know this -- most of the women seek
abortions, abortions have gone down in this country. Thank God, right?
Fewer and fewer every year.
So, now, the women that seek them are in crisis in some way.
WAGNER: Yes. And on that note, Kate, 3 percent of abortions in
Michigan were paid for through with health insurance, and they tend to be
cases of women in their second trimester or beyond, and they are women who
tend to want the pregnancy but something goes wrong. And the costs of
terminating the pregnancy at that point can be $10,000, $20,000 depending
on if they have to stay in the hospital.
Given the number of women who get this and the completely legitimate,
not that every sort of choice over ones body isn`t legitimate -- the
reasons they choose to do this, why did the Right to Life folks choose this
segment of the population to go after do you think?
SEGAL: I really just think they were upset over a veto. And they are
really trying to split has talking about the initiative that we are using
taxpayer dollars for this.
This isn`t about taxpayer dollars. This is about my private
insurance. This is about the story of a woman I had to read yesterday
because she is not allowed to testify. There were no hearings on this.
She was in her late second trimester. Unfortunately, her very wanted
baby had less than half a brain. Why on earth would we look at the woman
and say, now, you are going to have to pay over $10,000 out of your own
pocket to protect your reproductive rights in the future.
WAGNER: Ana, the other thing that seems to be happening -- this is
emergent narrative, is that women, like we saw at the beginning of the
program, have to sort of throw themselves on the emotional crucifix to
explain their rape, and in this case, it had no resonance with the
conservative Republican state legislators. But it is very distressing to
me that this is now sort of what is expected of women to defend a basic
COX: I agree. I was thinking about that. I was thinking how this
should not be a case where we need to pull out these stories, these tragic
stories. This is a medical procedure that I have a right to as much as I
do to have some one set a broken arm.
You know, this is my body. It should not require a tearful appeal
about a crisis to get. And when we turn these things into a crisis again,
we put it back on women. We say that this is somehow their fault. They`ve
gotten themselves in trouble. You know?
But the case is, all these abortion laws are talking about, banning
abortion after 20 weeks, this kind of insurance coverage, this just pushes
the abortions that are really necessary that are really dangerous further
and further into that, into the margins. Because the people, they are less
than, I think it`s less than 3 percent, maybe less than 1 percent of
abortions are after 20 weeks any way, and those that happen then are
expensive and dangerous. And, the women who get them a -- if they`re
forced to wait for whatever reason, I mean, we`re not saving women`s lives.
We`re not saving any one`s lives.
WAGNER: Shame, fear, intimidation seems to be the order of the day on
that one. Kate Segal, and Ana Marie Cox, thank you both for your time.
Coming up, my interview with Nancy Pelosi about the Congress that
cannot get anything done.
And, is there enough celebrity power in the universe to sell
WAGNER: From Wendy Davis to Elizabeth Warren and Kathleen Sebilius to
Nancy Pelosi, a lot of women altered the political landscape in 2013.
Tomorrow at noon eastern on my show, "Now," we will take a special look at
women in politics including my interview with House Democratic leader Nancy
In this exclusive preview, leader Pelosi opens up about her decades of
experience on the hill and the current state of the Republican Party.
WAGNER: We`re sitting in the U.S. capital at the finish of a year
when this Congress will have approved just 55 laws. And my question to you
is how has the institution changed since you got here, 26 years ago?
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: Well, what happened is
happened in the last few years when the majority in the House, the
Republican majority in the House has the brought with it an anti-government
ideology. So they take pride in shutting down government or reducing the
role of public employees as well as passing legislation to improve the
lives of the American people. It`s part of the agenda. And that is
something that we have to make clear to the American people. Thought, we
have a role to play, we don`t want any more government than we need. But
we do need to honor our responsibilities to the American people.
WAGNER: President Obama with an interview with my colleague, Chris
Matthews, a few weeks ago, said he thought some part of the Republican
Party in Congress is embarrassed at how little they have done.
Do you, as someone who knows the Republican members of Congress, who
interfaces with Republican leadership, do you think that they do have the
feeling that they`re embarrassed?
PELOSI: I do think the Republicans in our country are not really
identifying with the agenda of Republicans in Congress. I said for a long
time, Republicans in Congress have hijacked the name Republican. And they
have used it to be anti-government ideologues. They are anti-government.
They are anti-science. And they are anti-Obama. So that enables them in
good conscience to, to oppose any initiatives to create jobs or again to
improve the lives of the American people. It is a very serious challenge.
Now, I`m always very respectful of differing points of view. But even
president Washington, George Washington said, cautioned when he left
government, against political parties that were, that were at war with
their own government.
WAGNER: We have followed the travails of the House Republican caucus
in no small detail. And the idea that you have had to open up, you have
got, you know, get the vets together how votes together o open up the
government because John Boehner is effectively powerless with members of
his on caucus.
The idea that these, you know, one of two parties in the country has
not shown that it is willing to put the nation ahead of its own sort of
gerrymandered districts. And I guess, you know, given where we are at, and
I mean, you know, my faith is much more with the house the Democrats than
it would be with the house Republicans in terms of doing anything
legislatively, what convinces them? I mean, what convinces the small group
of people? Is it pressure from the national media because the it seems as
if, not even that works?
PELOSI: Well, I know, preaching to the choir when I preach about the
differentiation. But it is not a small group of Republicans. It`s over 60
percent of the House Republicans voted to shut down government. Eighty
percent of them, voted -- when it was their bill, we were voting on. It
wasn`t our bill. It was their bill we were voting on which we didn`t like.
But it was their proposal, and over 60 percent of them voted against their
own bill to open up government.
Eighty percent of them voted against Sandy aide unless you were from
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and a smatter of others from the rest
of the country. Eighty percent of the Republicans voted against, 97
percent of the Republicans voted to cut $40 million out of the food stamps,
97 percent of only 15 people, not 15 percent, only 15 people voted to say
no for the billion dollars back in conscionable. That`s immoral. That is
But the fact is, is that people still have this mythology that it is
just 30, 40. No, it is over 130, 140 Republicans. So, if the Republicans
out there care about anything other than tax cuts, if they care about the
environment or women`s right to choose or sense of community in our
country, and I think that they do. Are they overwhelmingly support gun
safety, immigration, and the rest. They really are just going to have to
weigh in. So, it`s not a small group, I think it is really important to
WAGNER: You can see my entire interview with Leader Pelosi and the
rest of our Special Report, "Women in Politics," tomorrow at noon eastern,
9:00 a.m. pacific right here on MSNBC.
Up next, can Adam Levine make Obamacare sexy? No, seriously. Can he?
WAGNER: If you have ever wondered just how difficult is hat to be to
negotiate with North Korea, look no further than the state news release on
the execution of Kim JongUn`s uncle. According to the state run news
agency, KCNA, Kim`s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, was guilty of quote "attempting
to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods
with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state. The
accused is a traitor to the nation for all ages who perpetrated anti-party
counter revolutionary factional acts in a bid to overthrow the leadership
of our party and state and the socialist system. Jong was appointed to
responsible posts of the party and state thanks to the deep political trust
of President Kim Il-sung and leader Kim Jong-Il and received (INAUDIBLE)
from them more than any others from long ago. It is an elementary
obligation of a human being to repay trust with the sense of obligation and
(INAUDIBLE) with loyalty.
However, despicable human scum Jong, who was worse than a dog,
perpetrated trace cruse acts of treachery and betrayal of such profound
trust and warmest fraternal love shown by the party and leader for him.
The U.S. government has yet to confirm the execution of Jong, but
intelligence officials say they have no reason to doubt that it happened.
WAGNER: "People" magazine`s sexiest man alive is looking to heat
things up for the affordable care act. Adam Levine, William Valderama, Kal
Pen, Tatyana Ali and Pit Bull are just some of the celebrities who helped
launched the tell a friend get covered social media campaign today with the
aim of getting more young people to sign up for the nation`s health care
law. The new campaign will include daily messages from celebrities like
Adam Levine who tweeted California is where I call home. Now, you can
#getcovered if you are a resident. so, hurry.
The campaign Web site, tellafriendgetcovered.com directs users to
insurance exchanges and local enrollment assistance. Each week, new images
and videos like this one will be posted on the site.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
WAGNER: Joining me is Malve Reston, political columnist with "Los
Angeles Times." She attended today`s press conference launch of tell a
friend get covered campaign.
Malve, vizzles, I did not realize this was part of the pitch. But,
what is your initial thought on this? Is this going to be enough to
overcome -- I mean, Hollywood does not like a bad narrative. And the ACA
had a distinctly bad narrative since its launch. How effective did you
think the campaign could be?
MALVE RESTON, THE LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, I think it is important to
remember that what they announce today, the social media campaign is really
part of a much broader effort by the White House to rope in Hollywood and
all that flash and celebrity power to sell this law. If you remember they
brought together a lot of -- bigger names, like Amy Pohler (ph) and others
to the White House, Jennifer Hudson back early in the spring. And there
was going to be the huge launch dinner with celebrity fueled campaign to
get people to sign up. And then you had all these problems with the health
care launch and they pulled back.
And so, this is sort of the first phase of reengaging, again, to get
young people to sign up. But I mean, can Adam Levine sell it? I don`t
WAGNER: Well, then, you know what is interesting to me though, is
because celebrities tends to be very sensitive around their own brand and
protecting them. I mean, given the fact that the ACA has been through so
much bad and there has been such messaging sort of nightmares in and around
the rollout, I mean, I think it is almost a testament to them believing in
the goodness that it offers that you are getting people like Adam Levine to
go out there and say, listen this thing is a big deal. Go sign up for it.
RESTON: Absolutely. But I mean, let`s not forget that Obama did
incredibly well, fund-raising out here in Hollywood. He brought out all
kinds of celebrities on the campaign trail both times. These are people
who are incredibly loyal to the president. They want to help him. They
feel for him and think that he is getting, you know, a tough ride here.
And a lot of these people owed them are at this moment volunteering their
time, firms like Funny or Die which put out some videos of which you just
showed earlier this year. They are doing that all as a volunteer effort.
And really saying that, that they`re in it for the long haul and they want
to get young people signed up especially as the deadline gets closer. Of
course, young people have to soon up by December 23rd to get coverage
effective January 1st. All people do.
WAGNER: Well, it is worth noting that even in, in flossy, glossy
Hollywood Tinseltown, covered California which is leading this, which has
already signed up 100,000 people. So, maybe, the California audience is
particularly receptive to this.
Malve Reston from the "L.A. Times," thank so much for joining us.
RESTON: Absolutely. Thanks so much.
WAGNER: Coming up, the Senate is working around-the-clock trying to
confirm President Obama`s nominees to the Supreme Court and department of
Homeland Security. Why Harry Reid once again has had to resort to
desperate measures. That`s coming up.
WAGNER: A federal judge ruled challenges to the North Carolina`s
voter regulations will not go to trial until after next November`s
elections. The regulations limit early voting and require voters to show a
photo ID. The judge did say that the group`s protesting the regulations
will have a chance to argue for them to be blocked before the case is
Up next, why the Senate is pulling an all-nighter.
WAGNER: The all night non-stop senate talkathon is still going on.
You are now looking at live pictures of the Senate floor where Republicans
have so far refused to give up a single minute of debate time on the
current package of nominees.
Since Wednesday afternoon, Republicans have taken control of the
Senate floor to protest the filibuster rule change made by majority leader,
Harry Reid. The majority leader currently has a package of nearly a dozen
nominees up for a vote. Senate rules allow for up to 30 hours of debate on
a single presidential nominee which means with the current list that the
Senate could be in session until Saturday. And with the nominees for heads
of the department of homeland security, the IRS, and Federal Reserve yet to
be confirmed, Harry Reid had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: If we have work the weekend
before Christmas we are going to do that. If we have to work Monday before
Christmas, we are going to do that. If we have to work through Christmas,
we are going to do that. Because I know the game they`re playing. They
have done it before. The only impediment to holding votes without delay
and at reasonable hours is blatant partisan Republican obstructionism. It
is difficult to imagine more point (INAUDIBLE) than spending an entire
week, wasting and waiting for a vote. This is a foregone conclusion what
is going to happen every one of these votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WAGNER: Joining me now are congressional scholars and authors,
extraordinaire, Thomas Mann senior fellow at Brookings Institute and Norman
Ornstein, presidential scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. They
are also co-authors of the book, "it`s even worse than it looks" which is
now available on paperback.
Tom, I will go to you first on this. It is even worse than it looks
and it looks pretty bad. This seems to be the longest, most public display
of nanny-nanny-boo-boo that we have seen in the U.S. Congress, is it not?
THOMAS MANN, SENIOR FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: It really is. And
you know, usually what we have a sharp partisan statement like we just
heard from majority leader Harry Reid, we say, that any just partisanship.
But it is actually quite accurate. Republicans brought on this change in
the filibuster rule by, in effect, violating informal agreement they
reached earlier in the year.
So, they are in the business of pure obstruction. And stretching this
out and not allowing other things to come to the floor is, is achieves
nothing except maybe making them, maybe, feel good inside. It is really
WAGNER: You know, Norm, the Senate used to be known as the
deliberative body here. They suppose to be the adults in the room. And
ironically, I mean, today is an incredible reversal of that. In the House,
it was a small budget deal but it passed with bipartisan support. John
Boehner seems to be finally bucking out the pressure of outside
conservative groups. And over in the Senate, it`s childish pranks
extending for days.
NORM ORNSTEIN, PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLAR, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE:
Exactly so. And I can tell you that it doesn`t make most of them feel good
either. I have talked to some Republicans in the Senate who are not real
happy campers about this. They see this as Mitch McConnell playing this
out for himself.
A lot of them have other things to do. They have got fundraisers for
example. You know, talk about important things to do. But we also have a
very substantial legislative agenda. And it is not like an old style, old
school filibuster where you are dramatizing something really important.
They`re not doing anything other than something that is petulant. You
know if the signer from the Mandela funeral were there, I suspect the
signing would use is one finger. That`s the message being given here.
WAGNER: Tom, what do you think this does in terms of relations? I
mean we know they have been soured, that, Reid going for the so-called
nuclear option. The Republicans said that was going to be sort of an
unforgivable sin. Do they got their act back together. Is there a way to
sort of, you know, repair broken bridges in the new year.
MANN: I don`t think the personal relationships are as important as
the incentives. That, that members of the Republican party, in this case,
in the Senate feel they should act. If they believe such behavior will
hurt them in the upcoming elections, and in their effort to take control of
the Senate or, really, harm their ability to regain the White House. Then,
they`ll shape up and legislate. But at least for the time being, those who
are calling the shops and the Senate on the Republican side believe that
being petulant comes with no cost whatsoever.
ORNSTEIN: You know, Alex when we had all the predictions this would
drive the Senate right into the ground and nothing would happen. The
reality is that if Mitch McConnell and his colleagues believe that action
on the legislative package will serve their interests, they`re going to
make it happen. He worked with Reid to end the shutdown for example even
though they don`t get along very well.
They`re going to get through with defense authorization bill. They
will deal with the budget. They have already dealt with the plastic gun
issue. The few things they absolutely have to do they will do. And all
they`re doing is, basically just for show.
But, it`s not going to change the Senate fundamentally, when they come
back it will be the same thing. If they`ve don`t want to do it, they will
find ways of blocking it. If they see it as in their interest, they will
do it. That was the same before they changed the rule.
WAGNER: Tom, we quantitatively, with I think is only, 55 bills passed
in this Congress. They would seem to actually be the worst Congress ever,
qualitatively do you think they are?
MANN: It is even worse qualitatively because they have actually done
harm. That is to say, the government shutdown hurt. The threat again of
the public default hurt allowing the sequester to stay in place this whole
year. And now, cutting it back for a couple years. But 90 percent of it
still stays in effect.
I mean, that is real harm in the economy. The research shows that
they have increase spending happened immediately as part of the stimulus.
But then, since then our spending is at an historic low as the share of the
economy. So they`re doing positive harm, not just sitting around and not
getting constructive things done.
WAGNER: Thomas Mann and Norm Ornstein, you may need to write "it`s
even worse than it looks 2" given what is transpiring in our U.S. Congress.
WAGNER: Thank you both for your time tonight and your insights as
always. It is great to see you.
ORNSTEIN: Thanks, Alex.
WAGNER: I`m Alex Wagner, in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Tomorrow on my
show, "Now, special edition," "Women in Politics." Among my guests,
Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Chris Hayes is up next.
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