THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 16, 2013
Guest: Julian Epstein, Jonathan Cohn
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t see a real soul searching going on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We almost defaulted on our debt.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what got us out of the government shut down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was not exactly the strategy that I have not.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This time it`s John Boehner that is bucking the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have lost all credibility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday, Ryan try to defend Boehner.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think John got his Irish up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was frustrated, too.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s all good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would prefer to keep those conversations within
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paul Ryan, try to do kiss and makeup this weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Ryan carries a lot of weight with the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don`t want nothing out of this debt limit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to sell what they have in the best
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ryan said we have got to move to common ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re expecting us to find common ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no, no, no, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no fundamental policy shift happening here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got to move to higher ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stay tuned for some Republican demands on that.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Congressman Paul Ryan continued his
tea party appeasement tour today, trying to keep the bipartisan budget
deal. He is struck with Senator Patty Murray alive before the Senate
takes its first procedural vote on the deal tomorrow morning. So far,
only six Republican senators have said they support the deal which
passed the House last week with most Republicans voting for it. Some
tea party Republicans are still furious that House speaker John Boehner
attacked them and some right wing groups before the house vote last
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think they are
pushing our members in places where they don`t want to be. And frankly,
I just think that they have lost all credibility. You know, they pushed
us into this fight to defund Obamacare and to shut down the government.
The day before the government reopened, one of these groups stood up and
said we never really thought it would work. Are you kidding me? It
just comes to a point when some people step over the line.
You know, when you criticize something and you have no idea what your
criticizing, it undermines your credibility.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: On Sunday morning, Paul Ryan had a message for America and
the tea party about John Boehner`s display of anger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I think John has
kind of got his Irish up. He was frustrated that the oppositions came
up in opposition to our budget deal before we reach the budget
agreement. I think these are very important elements of our
conservative family. I would prefer to keep those conversations within
I think John has got his Irish up there. I think these groups are
valuable. The way I look at is this, they`re part of our conservative
family. I would prefer to keep the frustration within the family.
John was frustrated because they came on against our agreement before we
even reached an agreement. I see the tea party as indispensable and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And again today, Congressman Paul Ryan distanced himself
from John Boehner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: I don`t think it is that`s serious. I think John got his
emotions got ahead of him a little bit. I credit the tea party with
helping us get our mojo back, getting fiscal conservatism back into the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, former McCain senior adviser Steve Schmidt
and "the Washington Post`s" Ezra Klein.
Steve, this just sounds like good cop bad cop to me that, you know,
Boehner said what he had to say. He`s not taking that back in anyway.
Paul Ryan gets out there and tries to talk in a way that some of the
people who might be bothered with what Boehner said will start to feel
better, at least about doing business with Paul Ryan.
STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER SENIOR STRATEGIST FROM MCCAIN/PALIN 2008 CAMPAIGN:
Look. I think that John Boehner had a message, Lawrence, those
fundamentally directed at the politics for profit crowd of the
Republican party. People who sit atop the profit wing of the tea party.
And I think that Paul Ryan is trying to reassure voters, you sympathize
with the tea party, Republican voters who were against that the
appreciation of Republican politician and leaders over much in last
decade when it comes to keeping careful watch on the nation`s purse
strings, the spending access since they took place under a Republican
president and a Republican Congress.
And Paul Ryan, of course, I think does have future national ambitions.
And he wants to be someone who is appealing to all sides of a party. I
think John Boehner is trying to run the house and he has had great
difficulty doing that with the Jim DeMint wing of the party runner mark
over the last couple of years.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, this budget deal in the Senate, it feels odd to
me at this point that it doesn`t have more public Republican support.
EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. This is peculiar,
isn`t it? I mean, it is Paul Ryan, it`s almost easy to forget, was the
vice presidential nominee, was the keeper of fiscal conservatism. And I
think what you are seeing here, I think that what is underlying this,
this budget deal already is both sides giving up on the fundamental
requirement of compromise which is actually compromising on anything.
The fundamental insight of the deal. Is it the Democrats didn`t do
anything on entitlements? Republicans did do anything on actual taxes.
And so now, this side actually gave up anything that hurt. But now, we
are going to a further step and Republicans are not even happy with the
deal which nobody had to give anything up. And yet, they still got $20
billion of extra deficit reduction.
There is an argument out there that I think is persuades us,
particularly when it comes to what is the false of politics for profit
crowd which is it fundamentally, they don`t enjoy or want or support
legislating. They don`t want to have anything to do with the actual
political process itself. And that perspective has cowered a lot of
Republican leaders to pull back from Republican legislators to pull back
from anything that actually has any hint of Washington legislating
around it. And I think that`s is what you are seeing here.
O`DONNELL: So Ezra, is this thing going to pass in the Senate?
KLEIN: I think so. So, the big vote comes tomorrow. It is a closure
vote. They need to get 60 votes in order to beat a Republican
filibuster if any Republicans actually attempt to mount a filibuster.
They have already got in pretty close to there, if not they are -- I
don`t think there is too much doubt.
But look, we have seen things like this fail on sort of the part of the
House before, not that often in the Senate. Even if there is not a lot
of highly public support from the deal, Mitch McConnell is typically
able to deliver his people when he wants to deliver his people. Not
that many folks had said want to look over Paul Ryan and humiliating
defeat. He is very, very well-like by Senate Republicans.
So, I don`t think people are too worried about it. But it is a whole
lot less than a resounding show of support for either Ryan himself or
for the idea that House Republicans after the shut down are going to
pivot back to doing some kind of more business as usual legislating.
O`DONNELL: Well, Steve Schmidt, talking about the politics for profit
crowd, which is a good label, I like that. The Senate conservatives
fund which is one of these operations has sent out the most
extraordinary fund raising letter I have ever read in this kind of area.
This is the Senate conservative`s fund. They are, you would think, in
the business of trying to elect Republicans to the United States Senate.
And this, they are attacking John Boehner. They attack Mitch McConnell
in here. Mitch McConnell running for reelection and here is what they
say. It`s hard to believe that you`re reading something that is
supposed to raids money for Republicans.
What these leaders are doing, and they mean Republican leaders, what
these leaders are doing to conservatives is no different from what the
IRS got caught doing to them this summer. They are using their power to
discriminate against people they see as a political threat. John
Boehner called conservatives ridiculous for opposing the budget
agreement that increases spending, raising taxes and funds Obamacare.
While Mitch McConnell previously called us stupid traders who should be
locked in a bar and punched in the nose. Unfortunately, they attacks go
beyond words. A top conservative aid in the House was fired last week
for opposing John Boehner`s budget and Mitch McConnell has blacklisted
political firms that work for conservatives.
Steve Schmidt, that apparently is how you raise money from Republicans
these days to try to elect Republicans?
SCHMIDT: Look, I think one of the great television shows on the air
right now is the Americans. And it`s the story of these deep cover KGB
agents in early 1980s Washington, blended into American society.
You can extrapolate that plot. I mean, if this was a deep cover
operation to elect Democrats, it couldn`t conceivably be more
successful. The sad conservative bond is done more to elect Democrats
than the DSCC has done with the nomination of these loony candidates in
the name of freak show conservatism. We have given up five, six U.S.
senate seat over the last two elections cycles. And this is one of the
effects, Lawrence, of campaign finance reform.
We have pulled the money away from the political parties which have
always been stabilizing and moderating forces in politics and we have
diffused it to these outside groups that are idealogical. And so, any
time there is a deal, that they have the ability with over the top
rhetoric to go out and fleece grandma five dollars at a time, you`re
going to see them do it. And that is exactly what that letters is
about. It`s about putting money in their pocket. It has nothing to do
with conservatives. It has nothing to do with electing conservatives,
electing Republicans, or battling liberal policies that is Republicans
It has everything to do with wining the pockets to pay consultant fees
on these groups. And the American people are getting paid for suckers
on this. And this is well intention, good hearted conservative people
out there who are getting played over and over and over again by these
groups and it`s just too bad.
O`DONNELL: And Ezra Klein, these groups do have an effect on inhibiting
of votes and positions taken by Republicans in the Senate as we`re
obviously seeing this week.
KLEIN: Yes. That early monologue from John Boehner is an extraordinary
political document because on the one hand, as Paul Ryan says he`s
getting his Irish up, he`s frustrated. But there is a passivity to the
way he explains what happened. That they pushed him somewhere. That he
had to go that Republicans are pushed over a line.
Well, John Boehner is the speaker of the House. It is in theory a
powerful possession. These Republicans, they are elected. They have
until the next election to do a good job. They speak to a larger
election audience than the tea party. And the fact that the kind of --
there is nothing that the these groups have that should be forcing them
over any lines if we simply have the courage to sit up with them.
But so far, and over the last couple of major legislative initiatives, a
ramp group of about 20 to 40 House conservatives have managed to set the
tempo for the entire Republican House. And frankly, it doesn`t help all
that much when after Boehner does that, Paul Ryan gets on TV and
basically, I don`t want to say subs down Boehner a bit, but backs off of
Boehner`s comments and talks up the very groups that are trying to
undermine his deal. It is not exactly a profile and a courage.
O`DONNELL: I don`t want to leave this segment without taking exception
to the phrase Paul Ryan was using to explain John Boehner`s temper. I
don`t think the Irish had anything to do with it. And also, there is no
one under, I don`t know, 60 who knows what that phrase actually means.
And I will leave it to Google to explain it to anyone who actually
Ezra Klein and Steve Schmidt, thank you both very much for joining me
SCHMIDT: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, inside the National Rifle Association, and a
judge appointed by President George W. Bush rules that the NSA`s
collection of mass phone records is unconstitutional. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: After my report last week on the amazing cub scouts at the
sixth avenue Baptist church in Birmingham, Alabama who raised over
$18,000 for the K.I.N.D. fund, many of you were moved to contribute to
kids in need of desks. This program`s partnership with UNICEF that
builds desks in Malawi and delivers them to schools that have no desks.
Anti says, hello. Posted Alabama and Malawi, t he church that gives
shows that L.O., I guess L.O. shows us how to do right. Let`s do it.
Help each other, making my contribution ASAP.
Monica tweeted was finally able to watch the rewrite from last night.
So amazing and uplifting like Winnie909. So glad to be a contributor to
Mimi tweeted, yes, I just completely spur of the moment donated $30 to
the KIND fund to buy a school desk and pay for one year`s tuition for
high school girl. I love the spirit the moment of contribution.
On facebook, Shelly Netherton (ph) posted, I absolutely love giving
these gifts. Thank you for the opportunity.
And the Adora (ph), I just purchased a desk for children in Malawi to
honor the memory and the work of the late, great president Nelson
Mandela of South Africa.
Coming up, I`m going to have a bit more to say about the KIND fund and
some of the latest numbers including the total amount raised so far,
which is just amazing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We haven`t yet done
enough to make our communities and our country safer. We have to do
more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so
easily. We have to do more to heal troubled minds. We have to do
everything we can to protect our children from harm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was President Obama during his weekly address Saturday
during which he mentioned the anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre
that claimed the lives of 20 children and six educators.
In Sunday`s "New York Times" magazine, Robert Draper wrote an article
entitled inside the power of the NRA`s saying extreme gun groups can
influence the NRA`s simply by casting it as the establishment
organization. Much as the tea party candidates have pushed mainstream
Republican incumbents farther to the right that would seem to be what it
occurred in the case of the Manchin-Toomey bill.
On Friday, Colorado was once again the scene of another school shooting
in which a student gunman critically wounded a 17-year-old girl before
killing himself. Some of our worst mass murders have occurred in
Colorado at Columbine high school where 12 students and one educator
were killed and 27 were injured. And at a movie theater in Aurora,
Colorado where 12 people were killed and 70 others were injured.
This year, Colorado was one of the states that enacted new gun control
laws but now many of Colorado`s elected sheriffs are refusing to enforce
those new laws.
Joining me now, the author of "New York Times" piece on NRA, Robert
Draper and former Colorado state Senate president, John Morse, who was
recalled for his support for stricter gun laws in that state.
Robert Draper, one of the things I think is easy to forget and
relatively new development on this front is that there are other gun
rights groups out there that are far more radical than the NRA or I
should say more radical. I mean, you can calibrate what the differences
are between them. but tell us about some of those groups and how they
influence and pressure the NRA.
ROBERT DRAPER, AUTHOR, NEW YORK TIMES PIECE: Sure, Lawrence. I mean,
the NRA, being a much larger organization, about four to five million
members as best as we can tell, seeks to be the adults in the room. I
mean, they are the ones who actually try to get things done. They
actually, despite the reputation as the bullies on the block, are often
involved and, you know, how legislation is crafted. They certainly were
with the Machin-Toomey.
The smaller gun groups such as the Gun Owners of America and the
national association of gun rights have maybe one tenth the membership,
maybe less than that, have only one lobbyist on their payroll, but
they`re the lab guys. They are the ones who, through blast e-mails and
other means of agitating can their members can force the NRA to quit
compromising. And that`s the word that they use over and over again.
That, you know, here`s the NRA going in the back room with Joe Manchin
trying to take away your gun rights. And it spooks the NRA and that`s
what happened in the case of Machin-Toomey.
O`DONNELL: And John Morris, you cast a vote in favor to support it in
every way you could, the new legislation in Colorado. And that cost you
I want you to listen to what sheriff John Cook had to say. He`s one of
the sheriffs who you`re counting on in Colorado to enforce the new laws.
Let`s listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN COOK, COLORADO SHERIFF: This one was purchased before July 1st,
when the law went into effect so it was perfectly legal. This magazine
might have been purchased in another state. The free state of Wyoming
and smuggled across the border after July 1st, maybe. And Senator
Morris? Are you here? I would like to ask you a question. Senator
Morse. I guess I don`t see him. But law enforcement has to enforce
these laws and I`m going to do a little show and game here, you know.
When you mix them up? All right, keep your eye on the pea, all right.
Let me make it a little tougher, OK. Which one`s the illegal one?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: John Morse, there is a sheriff playing games with the law
that you passed. What`s your reaction to that?
JOHN MORSE (D), FORMER COLORADO SENATE PRESIDENT: Well, the sheriffs
are clearly elected officials. They are politicians and he is playing
to his base. I get that. I think limiting the number of rounds that
someone has access to, we know that saves lives. We know that in
Tucson, a 63-year-old woman was able to keep the shooter from reloading
a final time, and bring an end to that shooting. We know that when you
have got 100 round magazine like you did in Aurora, you can shoot 100
rounds before anybody gets a chance to do anything.
When people reload and we have seen in the Newtown report as well, it
really appears that when that shooter had to reload, that`s even with
30-round magazine that is when children were able to escape. That`s
when there was a chance to actually take him down.
So, you know, I mean, obviously, I`m mortified that folks that are
elected directly to concern themselves with public safety like sheriffs
are making a mockery of children dying at the hands of gunmen. But I
understand that politics and politics, that`s sort of sometimes how it`s
played. It is usually disappointing to me but it is how it`s played
O`DONNELL: Robert Draper, in your piece, you talk about the possible
declining influence of the NRA, you say time does not seem to be on the
NRA`s side. According to data compiled by the nonpartisan national
opinion research center between 1977 and 2012, the percentage of
American households possessing one or more guns declined by 36 percent.
That decline should not be surprising. To what do we attribute that
DRAPER: Well, a couple of things. One is that fewer people hunt. The
other is that there is less -- there is less violence. I mean, America
was very, very violent and a violent country in 1968 and gun ownership
was on the rise. But over the last 36 years it has declined 36 percent
because the main two reasons why a person would want to own a firearm
are becoming less and less of a big deal.
By the way, I would like to refine a point of Senator Morse reading what
the sheriff has said. It read a good story to me. I mean, our times
about this. I actually thought that the sheriff was seriously saying
there are ambiguities of the law, and that ought to be addressed. But
then, when you hear the tonality of what he says, it is clearly he is
mocking and it is clearly that he has that there are smarky tone to it
and it`s sort of unbecoming, I think, for the law enforcement officer to
basically be saying I`m not going to enforce these laws because I don`t
O`DONNELL: And John Morse, the enforceability of the law is key but the
idea of a law enforcement official coming out there and literally making
fun of the law and encouraging people to disrespect it, that I think is
something that we don`t have a lot of video on in this country.
MORSE: Absolutely. But in this particular case, I mean, we have term
limits in Colorado. So, as a sheriff, you get two terms, two four-year
terms in most jurisdictions. There are some that have changed it to
three, but that means, you know, you only have eight to 12 years to
And then, if you want to go on, and in an elected capacity, generally,
these are Republican kinds of folks and sheriff Cook is very Republican
and very anti-gun safety. I mean, he actually would like to repeal the
law that the people passed in 2000 after Columbine saying we got to have
background checks at gun shows. I mean, that law passed with over 70
percent approval and he wants to repeal it.
But at the same time, I mean, he has got to appeal to his base if he
wants a new job. His term limited and he needs a new job. So, he is
running for the Senate so he`s on the (INAUDIBLE).
O`DONNELL: Robert Draper and John Morse, thank you both for joining me
DRAPER: Sure thing.
MORSE: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Republicans can`t quite find the right words for
attacking the affordable care act. And later, the NSA`s collection of
meta data was ruled unconstitutional, at least one f it by a judge.
That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: There are legitimate questions to be asked about the
enrollment figures of the affordable care act and Republicans could do
that or they could talk about Nazis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: A North Carolina lawmaker comparing
Obamacare to the Nazis in a tweet.
REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR, POLITICS NATION: Now they`re going
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR, HARDBALL: The Republican state senator
from North Carolina tweeted this gem, quote "Justice Roberts` pen and
Obamacare has done more damage to the USA than the swords of the Nazis,
the Soviets and terrorists combine.
SHARPTON: Obamacare plus success equals a right wing freak out.
MATTHEWS: And there`s more coming here.
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we have a system
where the government is going to be the provider, principle provider of
health care for the country, we`re done.
MATTHEWS: Here we go. Rick Santorum.
SANTORUM: Once you have people getting free health care from the
government you can`t take it away from them. And the reason is because
most people don`t get sick. And so, free health care is just that.
Free health care until you get sick. And then, if you get sick and you
don`t get health care you die and so you don`t vote. It`s actually a
pretty clever system. Take care of the people who can vote. And people
who can`t vote, get rid of them as quickly as possible but I have given
care so they can`t vote against you. That`s how it works.
MATTHEWS: Top that Ted Cruz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me are Ari Melber, co-host of MSNBC`s "the Cycle"
and Jonathan Cohn, senior editor for the "New Republican."
Ari, can you translate what Rick Santorum just said? I tried to follow
it (INAUDIBLE) for a while.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: My short answer is no, I can`t. I
guess my longer answer is this is what you would get if you had the
single payer system, right? This idea that the government is in charge
of everything and in a conservative view, that`s somehow bad.
The problem, as we know, is we actually have this moderate compromise
plan that the president reach which layers into the health care markets.
So, about 48 percent of people get it from private employer, about a
third, you get it from some sort of government program like Medicare.
And then, you have the individual marketplace. This president did
exactly what the conservatives had said they wanted which is to work
with the private sector system.
O`DONNELL: And so, here we have this guy in North Carolina who said
that justice Robert`s pen, I like that he includes Justice Roberts here,
and Obamacare has done more to damage the USA than swords of the Nazis,
Soviets and terrorists combined.
Now, Jonathan Cohn, the Nazis, they didn`t use swords very much. But
just in North Carolina, there maybe -- they were thousands, at least
3,000 maybe 4,000 killed of North Carolinians killed in World War II in
the war against the Nazis. But to this guy, he finds no problem in
completing dishonoring that sacrifice and saying what`s happening in
North Carolina now is worse, thanks to a Republican Supreme Court chief
justice and President Obama.
JONATHAN COHN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Yes. You know, it`s
sort of amazing. You know, we throw around the phrase a lot in
politics. You know, this party has gone insane, these people have gone
insane. I think usually what we mean when we say that is they want, you
know, absurd things. They`re asking too much. They don`t have a sense
of political reality.
We are getting to the point where we have a party that is actually
losing its grip on reality. These claims are just fantastical and
absurd and disrespectful as you say. And the thing is look, you can
always find somebody saying something crazy in politics if you go to the
extreme wing. But what`s amazing about this is it`s really not that far
removed from what we hear from all over the Republican party. I mean,
we are seeing in Georgia, in Michigan, some candidate has the
(INAUDIBLE) to say that yes, I don`t like Obamacare. I hate Obamacare.
But since it`s the law of the land, maybe we should, at least, try to
fix some parts of it.
And if you just say that you get shouted down by the right wing. You
can`t even make that claim. You know, again, I think we have a party
that a has just lost grip of reality.
O`DONNELL: Well, the head, the good news is the head of the Republican
party in North Carolina tried to cool things off about that tweet. He
said that the guy who did that tweet, the state senator should apologize
and he then also said this.
I still fully believe -- this is the guy who wants the tweeter to
apologize. I still believe fully that the negative impact on the
finances of North Carolina and its people is going to be significantly
impacted even in comparison to any of those wars that occurred. People
need to open their eyes.
Ari, the guy says you should apologize for saying that thing. And now,
I`m going to say that thing in a stupider way than you did.
MELBER: I mean, he`s sort of like the debate club buddy that is like
hey, no. Slot me in and I`m going to come in and rescue your analogy and
he thinks he has got a smart way to do it, the economic scale. It is
It also goes to, I believe, Lawrence, and I know not everyone will agree
with me. But I believe there is actually an increasing panic as we get
to December 23, which is one deadline for enrollment as we get to the
individual mandate kicking in next year in January.
Because the bottom line is this is the law. And it is working and it
will become harder for the more responsible wing and members of Congress
to continue to flout the law. Although, you were just showing in your
last segment how there are some folks out there willing to do that. But
they have an obligation.
And the numbers tell the story themselves. October was troubling and
there were Web site problems and that is reality. But November, the
tread line was way up. And if you count the public and the private
programs, the federal state exchanges and Medicaid were up over 1.2
million more people who have been covered through this law. That is a
good thing for those people and it is a good thing for the insurance
marketplace and the president should be proud of that. I think that
number scares some of these Republicans.
O`DONNELL: We had a correction from the control room here on this whole
tweet thing. It turns out that this -- my notes are a little mixed up
here, that the guy who asked him to apologize did not then say this.
That was our crazy guy`s response to the demand that he apologize. He
just kind of took it even further which is, you know, really, when they
ask you to apologize, do not take it even further.
Ari Melber and Jonathan Cohn, thank you both for joining me tonight.
MELBER: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we will have more information on the KIND fund.
And in a shocking decision today, a federal judge appointed by George W.
Bush agrees with Edward Snowden.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s life lesson. Sometimes the worst thing
that can happen to you is actually the best thing that can happen to
you. Peter Seamus O`Toole was fired from his job as a reporter for the
Yorkshire Evening Post. His editor told him to try something else,
saying be an actor, do anything. And so, with nothing to lose he became
an actor and went on to deliver some of the most mesmerizing and
memorable performances in the recorded history of acting.
He was nominated for an Oscar eight times and lost every time. In 1972
he lost to Brando who deservedly was awarded an Oscar for the Godfather.
But Peter O`Toole had Marlon Brando to thank for turning down a role ten
years earlier that got Peter O`Toole his first Oscar nomination and
remains his best known performance, "Lawrence of Arabia." In 1982,
Peter O`Toole was nominated for his comic performance in "My Favorite
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You look great. How do you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel surprisingly well, thank you. So well that
I`m going to make a prediction. I usually take two or three takes but
tonight I predict I will get it on the first take.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We always get it on the first take. We have to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. This is live television.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live? Live. What does live mean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It means that exact moment you`re leaping around
that stage over there, 20 million people are seeing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute. Wait a minute.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You mean that it all goes into the camera lens and
just spills out into people`s houses?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why didn`t anybody have the goodness to explain this
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is nothing to worry about, Mr. Our audience is
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Audience? What audience?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You knew there was an audience. What did you think
the seats were for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I haven`t performed in front of an audience for 28
years. I had one line! I played a butler. I forgot it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t worry. This is going to be easy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For you, maybe. Not for me. I`m not an actor. I`m
a movie star.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In 2003, the academy awarded the actor and movie star Peter
O`Toole an honorary Oscar.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER O`TOOLE, ACTOR: Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, my foot. I
have my very own Oscar now to be with me until death us do part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Peter Seamus O`Toole died Saturday night in a London
hospital after a long illness. He was 81-years-old.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYING)
O`DONNELL: At Nelson Mandela`s funeral Sunday morning in South Africa,
which was the middle of the night here, the president of Malawi, Joyce
Banda, told the story of when she was invited to visit Nelson Mandela at
his home in Johannesburg. She was then the vice president of Malawi and
she was, to put it mildly, in awe of Nelson Mandela.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOYCE BANDA, MALAWI PRESIDENT: I walked into that house and mamma was
standing facing me and I thought she was taking me to a room where then
after that he was going to go and call Madiba. I walked into the room
not knowing that he was already sitting there. And when I turned and
saw him, my first reaction was to run out. And I learned was running
out. The picture in our house, that has been showing in Malawi just
last week is mamma pulling me back towards him.
At that moment, I did not know that I was to become president of the
Republic of Malawi, a few months down the line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Vice president Joyce Banda became president in April 2012
when the president of Malawi died in office. And even though the law
clearly provided for the vice president to become president in such a
situation, the transition was difficult and at times unpredictable and
there were moved to block Joyce Banda from becoming president by any
means necessary. Her guide through that rough transitional period was
the advice of Nelson Mandela.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANDA: At the moment I became president of Malawi, I had been isolated,
humiliated, called names and an assassination attempt on my life. I
found myself in a situation where I had to work with the same people
that had prevented me from becoming president of my country. I had to
forgive but I had to forgive without any effort because my Madiba had
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joyce Banda is the -- was the first woman vice president of
Malawi and she is now the first woman president of Malawi. She is, in
fact, the first woman president in all of Southern Africa. Education
is, of course, the key to the advancement for women in Malawi. And it
is also the roadblock, only seven percent of girls in Malawi complete
high school while 15 percent of boys get high school degrees.
There are many roadblocks for girls trying to get through high school,
including tuition. Unlike elementary school, high school in Malawi is
not free. And in a poverty stricken country with a per capita annual
income of $858, most families can`t possibly pay the fees for all of the
children or any of their children to go to high school. They are more
likely when they do pay such fees to pay for a boy`s education than a
girl`s. That`s why we have now established a girl`s tuition program as
part of the KIND fund, Kids In Need of Desk.
Since I last spoke to you about this last week, we have raised an
additional $50,906 for girls tuition in Malawi. The full cost for a
year of school for each girl is $177 which includes room and board for
the girls who need it. The full cost of each of our desks that are made
in Malawi and delivered to schools there has increased to $65 each,
reflecting a fuel spike in Malawi. Fuel cost spiked. And that has
increased many prices involved in getting the desks built. The price of
steel that also affects the price of the wood that the workers use in
Malawi to make those desks.
But any amount you can contribute is helpful. If you contribute $10 to
desks or tuition, someone else will contribute $10 and someone else will
contribute $10 sand so on and so a girl will go to high school who
otherwise would not have had a chance to go to high school and she will
see a desk for the first time in her life at that school and she will
treasure that desk in ways that we who take such things for granted find
hard to imagine.
And it will be the only furniture that she has at home or at the school
where the girls in their dormitories sleep on the floor. And cook their
meals in a kitchen which is nothing more than a walled in area with an
open fire on the floor. Since I last spoke to you about this last week
we have raised an additional $138,070 for desks. In our last report we
were just $530 below the $6 million mark and as of today we have raised
a total of $6,188,446 for the KIND fund in the years since we have been
When I created the KIND fund and talked about it on this program for the
first time, my guess was that we would maybe raise about $50,000 in that
first year and here we are, $6 million later with many of you repeat
contributors every year. I can never thank you enough for your
generosity and kindness and I know that the kids of Malawi thank you,
O`DONNELL: A federal judge made Edward Snowden`s day today. That`s
O`DONNELL: A federal court judge ruled today that the National Security
Agency`s mass collection of phone data is likely unconstitutional,
violating the fourth amendment. In his ruling, Judge Richard Leon
writes I cannot imagine a more indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion
than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal
data on virtually every single person with the purpose of queering
analyzing it without approval. Surely, such a program infringes on that
degree of privacy that the founders enshrined in the fourth amendment.
Indeed, I have little doubt that the authors autism of our constitution,
James Madison, who cautioned us to beware of abridgment of freedom of
the people by gradual and silence encroachments by those in power would
Judge Leon issued a preliminary injunction against the program which he
then put on hold pending an appeal shortly after the ruling Edward
Snowden released this statement. I acted on the belief that the NSA`s
mass surveillance programs would not with stand a constitutional
challenge and that the American public deserved a chance to see these
issues determined by open courts. Today, a secret program authorized by
a secret court was then exposed to the light of day found to violate
American`s rights and it is the first of many.
Joining me now former Julian Epstein, Democratic strategist and former
chief Council for the house Judiciary Committee.
Julian, what is your read of this opinion?
JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, you have to keep in mind
the primary purpose of the program, Lawrence, was to find out what phone
numbers terrorists outside the United States are calling inside the
United States and who in the United States are calling suspected
terrorists outside of the United States are calling inside the united
states. And who in the United States are calling suspected terrors
outside of the United States. And while this is a slap down of the NSA
program for sure, I think the NSA critics are popping champagne bottles
First of all, most of the cases going back to 1979 but even a couple of
cases floating through the courts right now have held that this is meta
data collection is perfectly constitutional even without a court order
or even without a warrant. And remember in this case, you had
authorization of the actual collection of this meta data.
But secondly what the court seems to be saying here is not so much that
the collection per say is unconstitutional, it`s the way in which the
NSA was carrying out the programs. In other words, the NSA is keeping
telephone records, and that is the numbers of outgoing and incoming
phone calls on most Americans for up to five years. This information is
And again, it catches most Americans who use cell phones or land lines.
And what the court is saying is that since 1979 when meta data was first
held constitutional was first held constitutional, the world has changed
and this amount of information allows the government to create a virtual
identity of American citizens that use any kind of telephone. And so,
that is invasive of the fourth amendment.
But I think again, it`s somewhat limited finding for the following
reason. Even judge Lee unconcedes that if the NSA were to limit the
program, that they would limit and find ways of limiting the invasion or
the collection of data for U.S. citizens for which there is no suspicion
whatsoever and if it were to demonstrate that the program was effective
in stopping terrorism, then even Judge Leon says that this program would
be well within the bounds of the constitution.
So, I think while sit a slap down at the NSA program, the Obama
administration now has two options. The Obama administration could
appeal this case, the U.S. circuit. And if it does, I think it stands
at least 50/50 chance of winning. Because as I say all of the previous
cases are on the side of the NSA here. All of them say that because the
collection of this information is limited to incoming and outgoing phone
numbers, no content is listened to, that it is not a violation of the
fourth amendment privacy protections.
So the Obama administration could clearly appeal this case. And if they
do, I think they stand a pretty good chance of winning. But more
importantly, if they want to take a look at what Judge Leon says in the
decision, I think the Obama administration could figure out how to limit
Remember, President Obama is not an idea log, he is a pragmatist. I
think he could limiting the program so that there is as minimal as
possible invasion into our privacy rights. And I think if they could
make the case that this is actually very effective in getting out there,
I think the court will find this well within the fourth amendment
O`DONNELL: Julian Epstein gets tonight`s last word.
EPSTEIN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES: Good evening from New
York. I`m Chris Hayes. And even as the latest polling finds New Jersey
governor Chris Christie leading not only the Republican presidential
field, but also a theoretical matchup against Hillary Clinton, Christie
finds himself right in the middle of the biggest political scandal of
his career. Just wait until the voters of Iowa hear about this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Tonight I stand here as your
governor, and I am so proud to be your governor.
HAYES: Just last month, Chris Christie swept to re-election in a
landslide and launched himself towards the White House. But today, his
administration is in crisis.
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