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The Ed Show for Thursday, December 26th, 2013

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December 26, 2013

Guests: Zerlina Maxwell, Terry O`Neill, Eric Boehlert, Jimmy Williams, Ruth Conniff, Igor Volsky


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no war on women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Women don`t care about contraception.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t have sex because you will get pregnant and die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gov. Mary Fallin -- wait a minute, you`re a female
and you`re Republican?

REP. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA: Go figure. I love you women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s just like the rules of feminism.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Since the Republican state House and US House
takeover in 2010, we`ve seen unprecedented legislative attacks on women`s
reproductive rights. But in the war on women, women haven`t just gotten
mad, they`ve gotten elected.

The 2012 election ushered a record number of women to the House and the
Senate. A record 36 women ran for the U.S. Senate last year, 20 Democrats
and 16 Republicans. And women now hold 20 out of 100 U.S. Senate seats, 16
Ds and 4 Rs, which sadly, given the fact that women are more than half of
the population actually counts a record.

Women hold 78 House seats out of 435 including 60 Dems and 19 Republicans,
plus three women who serve as delegates from Guam and the Virgin Islands
and Washington, D.C.

But even though the Democratic party drinks the GOP`s milkshake when it
comes to the number of women serving in Washington, there is one place
where Republicans have the upper hand. They have more women serving as

On the GOP side there are four women currently residing in governors`
mansions, Jan Brewer in Arizona, Susana Martinez in New Mexico, Mary Fallin
in Oklahoma and Nicki Haley in South Carolina, while Democrats have just
one, Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire.

But, riding the wave of attention brought to women`s issues thanks to the
Republican obsession with controlling women`s reproduction, including
whether we have access to birth control. Democratic leaders and national
women`s groups are focused on changing that.

Republican gubernatorial -- to changing that Republican gubernatorial
advantage in 2014. 36 states are set to hold gubernatorial elections next
year, and according to numbers from the Center for American Women in
Politics at Rutgers University, 27 women have filed or are likely to file
for governors races across the country in next year`s elections.

At least six races are set to feature high-profile women running as


LISA MADIGAN, (D), ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think that there are a lot of
people that are considering what they want to do in the future. And if
they can be of greater service to the people of the State.


MADIGAN: I`m among those people.

SEN. WENDY DAVIS, (D), TEXAS: Today, I am proud to announce my candidacy
to be the 48th governor of this great state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Allyson Schwartz is the only Pennsylvania woman in the
U.S. Congress. Now she wants to become the state`s first woman governor.

REP. ALLYSON SCHWARTZ, (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Well I think people are very
ready. I feel very ready to run and to be governor, and I think so do many
women across the state.


REID: So Democrats are trying to capitalize on the GOP, sometimes
hilarious but often disastrous attempts at reaching out to women. But now
we all know the Republican Congressional Committee and House Speaker John
Boehner have resorted to offering tutoring sessions on how to speak to
women. Pro tip, don`t mention "rape".

And even the optics have changed. You may have noticed, Republican women
have been making more and more appearances on camera during the parties`
press conferences for instance, as if to make the point that Republicans do
have a binder full of women and here they are all -- here they all are for
you to look at right now.

Of course, the catch is women -- the women Republicans do choose to
highlight are often champions of their party`s most extreme policies, like
Sarah Palin, who didn`t read the Duck Dynasty interview but agrees with
everything Phil Robertson said, and also paying taxes is just like slavery.

Or Michele Bachmann who, when she`s not running for President, is serving
water to the main folk because, you know, freedom. There`s Nikki Haley
with her Christmas gun, and Jan Brewer, the finger pointing Obama, heads in
the desert Jan Brewer though, not the Extending healthcare for our state
because it`s the right thing to do Jan Brewer, because, you know, she
doesn`t like freedom at all.

So, in order to be a high profile Republican woman, much like being a high
profile conservative black or brown person, you have to buy the blue plate
special. You have to say the entire script. And sometimes say it with
even more extremist gut spill than the guys. That`s because you still have
to serve the base of the party which is very, very far to the right because
it`s your job to reassure that base, that their views really are broadly
shared including by the targets of some of the harshest conservative

And when it comes to getting the votes of married and older white women,
that strategy actually works. In 2012, President Obama won just 31 percent
of married, non-college educated white women, and 43 percent of married,
college educated white women. While Republicans continue to win with those

The American electorate is getting older which is good for Republicans, but
it`s also getting more secular, more non-white and more single -- bad for

President Obama won 50 percent of the votes of single, non-college white
women and 55 percent of single, college educated women. Three quarters of
Hispanic women also voted Democrat, and 96 percent of African-American
women in 2012.

And while a midterm is not a presidential election, intends to draw voters
who look and think more like the Republican party, if Democrats manage to
nationalize the 2014 elections in the states, and if GOP policies drive
more young, single, minority and college educated voters to the polls in
2014 than came out in 2010, then Republicans` war on women might turn out
to be their waterloo.

Get yourself phoned up, I want to know what you think. And tonight`s
question is, "Do Republican women candidates really represent the women of
this country?" Text A for Yes, text B for No to 67622, or you can go right
to our blog at and I`ll bring you the results later in the

But right now joining me are Terry O`Neill, President of the National
Organization for Women, and theGrio contributor, Zerlina Maxwell. So,
Zerlina, I`m going to start with you. Do Democrats have a coherent
strategy for wooing women voters that goes beyond just talking about

ZERLINA MAXWELL, THEGRIO CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think so because, you know,
the Republicans aren`t only talking about abortion. They went above and
beyond. They start talking about birth control, which is all women --
that`s not Republican or Democratic women -- that`s all women. And even
religious women.

And so I think that focusing on the fact that we should be able to control
our reproductive health which includes birth control, it`s not just
abortion, that is a winning issue for Democrats. That`s where we should
focus all of our attention, because that has the ability to attract the
most broad coalition of voters.

REID: So, Terry, do you -- I mean Zerlina makes a good point that you have
to get beyond the abortion debate because in reality it is not a slam dunk
even among women. It`s still sort of 50-50 issue in the country.

So have Democrats made a mistake by focusing so much of their war on women
rhetoric around the issue of abortion and not broadening it out, as Zerlina
said, to really hit at the idea of contraception?

Democrats actually are moving into the contraception realm. And also I
think it`s very interesting that the Democrats are moving into the economic
agenda for women, and really trying to draw, I believe, a sharp distinction
between Democrats. That`s particularly going on in the House of
Representatives and Republicans around such economic issues as not just
fair pay for women, equal pay for equal work, and sick days, paid sick days
and paid extended leave.

But child care which we haven`t seen be an issue in a long time, and the
minimum wage.

Democrats are embracing the minimum wage as a means of lifting up the wages
of women because two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women. So I think
we`re going to see a lot more of that in 2014. And as Zerlina says, I
think the Democrats really do need to go and put a spotlight on the birth
control issue.

REID: And Zerlina, you know, one of the constant conundrums for democrats,
unlike in presidential years like 2012, in midterms the electorate has
fewer young women, has fewer minority women. What messaging do you think
will work with those women? Because is that a cohort that`s going to care
more about reproductive issues, or do Democrats need to find really
specific issues to microtarget them?

MAXWELL: Well, I think they certainly do need every election is local,
that`s the saying. But I think the Virginia gubernatorial race is a point
of clarity for Democrats because one of the things that happened in that
race was black women. Black women made up the gender gap.

And so if we`re focusing more on people of color, low income women and like
Terry said, women that are making minimum wage, I think that that`s the
place to start to win in the midterm elections next year. I`m also looking
forward to seeing how Hilary Clinton factors in to getting, you know,
Democrats excited and engaged, particularly the women candidates running
next year.

REID: You know, and whether or not it`s a slum dunk issue, Terry, it
really has been alarming, the extent to which Republicans have been not
shot at all about going after reproductive rights specifically, not just on
a national level but in the states. And I`m wondering if that granularity,
even going to localities and going after reproductive rights on a local
level, and that granularity, is the core of the Republican advantage, and
whether Democrats are missing that point.

O`NEILL: Joy, you know, I think actually that is backfiring against some
Republicans. In Albuquerque, New Mexico for the first time ever we had a
flat out criminalization of abortion care before viability, a direct
contravention of Roe v. Wade. And it was the city council that was trying
to pass this and they put it up on a ballot measure, a referendum.

We defeated that. Our allies now and its allies defeated that at the
municipal level by a 60 percent. We got a 10-point margin. I think with
the 60 percent of them, of voters said "No, we don`t want that kind of
restriction on abortion care."

And so I think, yes, the Republicans -- and by the way there`s a number of
municipalities too in Virginia that are trying to criminalize abortion.
And I think it`s going to backfire significantly. It`s really interesting
to see what happened in Virginia. And in fact, in many ways, that
gubernatorial race was nationalized. It was really Ken Cuccinelli, Mr.
Mandatory transvaginal ultrasound, against Terry McAuliffe who very, very
openly said "I will keep the abortion clinics open. I will make sure that
women have healthcare, that they have birth control. I`ll make sure that
women have the things that they need."

And by campaigning that way, Terry McAuliffe was able to win.

Now it`s very important to recognize that he won. It was really the
African-American women`s vote that won the day in Virginia. But it was
also young voters, men and women, who are with us in this fight and that`s
really interesting demographic, I think.

REID: And that young voter demographic is going to be so important, I mean
you talked about states like Michigan .


REID: . where you have anti-abortion legislation .


REID: . on the table. You talked about states like Pennsylvania, Ohio.
There are a bunch of swing states that are out now.


REID: But Democrats have not had good success in getting younger voters,
in getting minority voters out in midterms.


REID: Is it enough to talk about the Republican war on women? Because
young women need to come up for a lot of issues. Is it enough to focus on
reproductive rights and even contraceptives?

MAXWELL: Well, no. I think that we need to connect reproductive rights
with economic justice, right?

So reproductive rights and preventative healthcare, that`s an economic
issue for women and families. That`s not just, you know, a women-only
issue. And so if we broaden it out and talk about how making sure that I
have access to birth control so that I can, you know, have control over my
destiny going to college and not getting pregnant when I don`t want to.
That`s an economic issue for women and families.

Also too, we need to do a better job as Democrats to explain what TRAP laws
are because TRAP laws are going to be the de facto end to Roe v. Wade in
this country if Democrats don`t get on offense on that. Because right now,
I mean in Texas for example with Wendy Davis, that was actually a loss for
Democrats and it wasn`t .

REID: And these are law .

MAXWELL: . trap, right.

REID: . although these laws that require .

MAXWELL: Exactly.

REID: . clinics to adhere to a certain set of policies that are almost

MAXWELL: Right. So they just close this clinic, right?

REID: Right.

MAXWELL: It ends up closing clinics and, you know, there`s 20 clinics for
26 million women in Texas. And that`s ridiculous. And we need to explain
this to voters so that they know that TRAP laws which are framed as make it
more safe for women really just de facto and your constitutional right to

REID: And you know, Terry, it`s interesting because mentioning Wendy Davis
as Zerlina just did. It strikes me that one of the other issues that
Republicans have is not even just policy but also tone, right? Whether or
not people agree with the idea of abortion being legal, the idea that she`s
been called Abortion Barbie .

O`NEILL: Right.

REID: . sort of the way that she has talked to and talked about by
Republicans is an issue. I`m not sure how much Democrats have made of it,
but how does that strike you as leading an organization that is vying for
women? You know, just this idea of her being derided and dismissed as a
Barbie doll.

O`NEILL: Sure, I mean that -- and that again is going to I think backfire
against the Republicans. I`ve already seen some evidence that it has. In
fact my organization has called out misogynistic attacks on women who`s
stepped into the public sphere. And we did that when Sarah Palin was
unfairly attacked as a woman as opposed to we attacked her for her policies
all the time, but not because she was a woman and that`s the distinction we
draw. Those attacks on Wendy Davis are clearly misogynistic. They`re
aimed at her as a woman who stands for certain policies.

So I think that`s going to backfire against the Republicans. I also think
that something that`s going to backfire against them and it`s happening in
Texas ,is yes, you have tens of millions of women who are affected by these
TRAP laws, these anti-abortion laws. You have hundreds of thousands of
women who have been mobilized by this outrageous attack on women`s access
to basic healthcare.

And what`s happening is that the more -- and this is really interesting I
think, the more the Republicans go after birth control, right, which
they`re doing -- that`s in the courts right now so it`s not really out
there in legislative -- the legislative realm. But it`s in the courts.
The more they go after birth control, the more people see them going after
birth control, the stronger supports for the whole range of reproductive
healthcare services gets, including abortion care.

So it`s a really interesting I think phenomenon that you find in the
polling. But my prediction is women are becoming more and more mobilized
because we are learning more and more about what`s going on state by state.

And I think 2014, and the trick for the Democratic Party, frankly the trick
for my organization, Democrats or Republicans and we`re trying to get for a
woman candidate elected. But the real effort is going to be around
turnout. Getting our demographics to the polls to vote and that by the way
also means stopping these voter suppression efforts, key -- and Texas is a
classic example of voter suppression efforts that have completely gone -- I
think gone national, and that`s bad for the Republican Party.

REID: Yeah. And one way, Zerlina, in which the voting rights issue dove
tails with the issue of reproduce rights because of course those voting
rights laws .


REID: . in Texas in particular .


REID: . really do affect women.

MAXWELL: And women of color, right? So the reproductive rights
restrictions impact women of color and the voter suppression impacts women
of color. And so we`re under attack .

REID: Yeah.

MAXWELL: . from all angles.

REID: The more women from multiple angles. All right. Thank you so much
Terry O`Neill as well as Zerlina Maxwell. Thanks to both of you.

And remember to answer tonight`s question right there at the bottom of your
screen and share your thoughts on Twitter at Ed Show and on Facebook. I
want to know what you think.

And still to come, the nightmare after Christmas and Republican resolutions
for 2014. Plus, Congressman Steve King`s Nordic tracks. Trenders is next.
You`re on the Ed Show.


RIED: Time now for the Trenders. You can find the show on Twitter at Ed
Show and you can find me at The Reid Report.

The Ed Show social media nation has decided and we are reporting. Here are
today`s top Trenders voted on by you.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let`s all be on our best behavior.

RIED: The number three Trender, polar protest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meet Bill Snape, an environmental lawyer with the
Center for Biological Diversity in Washington, D.C. He is spending the
holidays in Hawaii to trail the President.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice tunic, soldier.

RIED: President Obama gets this icy reception on the link in Hawaii.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s Snape in costume yesterday at Mid Pacific
Country Club where President Obama spent several hours golfing and even
shouted "Hey, Polar bear," when he saw him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The green`s that way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ve been all over the country trying to remind the
President say no to (inaudible). It would melt the arctic habitat,
contribute to global warming and ultimately leave me the polar bear to

RIED: The number two Trender, oh deer.

JOSH ZEPPS: What did you eat for Christmas dinner if you are Republican
congressman Steve King, you decided to switch it up this year.

RIED: Rudolf tops off Congressman Steve King`s Christmas dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can save the neck for me, Clark.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For crying out loud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know about the cat. But I sure am enjoying it.

RIED: And today`s top Trender, scrooge.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy holidays.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Merry Christmas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it`s a blessed time of the year.

CRUZ: Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

RIED: Republicans spread Christmas cheer while a million American wallets
are spread thin.

CRUZ: The season of giving is upon us.

SCHULTZ: It`s the holiday season. Why do we have to have ice in our

BOEHNER: That`s really a good time for I think all of us to count our
blessings and be with our family.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge, it is
more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for
the poor and destitute.

SCHULTZ: On December 28th, 1.3 million unemployed Americans are going to
be stopped receiving their benefits.

OBAMA: I believe that work should begin with something that Republicans in
Congress should have done before leaving town this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christmas is a habit of keeping men from doing

CRUZ: Good will is infectious.



REID: And joining me now is Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow at Media Matters.
So, Eric, do you see signs out there in the media (inaudible) that
Republicans are attempting to message the other side of the unemployment
insurance debate, meaning let`s not renew this.

don`t want to renew it as -- I was just explaining, you know, if they`re
going to expire this Saturday and there`s been 10 consecutive times that
was renewed and this was .

REID: Right.

BOEHLERT: . the first time the message is -- the larger message is, "Look,
there`s a war on the poor." And it`s not even poor. It`s the war on
people who can`t find the job.

Look, you know, the war on food stamps, the war on expanding Medicare in
the states, the war on unemployment benefits. This is a much larger push
that we see on Fox News, we hear on Rush Limbaugh all the time.

You know, this has been a message for the Republican Party for decades. I
mean I`m talking about Ronald Reagan and the welfare queen. There`s always
this idea that people who aren`t working aren`t really trying .

REID: Right.

BOEHLERT: . the government shouldn`t be helping, that`s not what we should
be doing. But this is -- the Republicans are taking this to a new extreme
as Paul Krugman wrote recently, you know, this is like a fevered pitch, the
war on the poor.

And so we see coordination again between the Republican Party and the Right
Wing noise machine and their target this time of year is amazingly is
giving and charity.

REID: You know, and it`s interesting because Democrats normally don`t
coordinate very much about this, right?


REID: It`s the idea of hurting (inaudible) like I`m trying to get the
Democrats together. But there is actually an attempt right now .


REID: . particularly taking advantage of the holiday season to message
against this idea of not renewing unemployment benefits. I want to -- I`ll
let you take look at a new ad that`s coming out and get your take on and
then decide.



UNIDENITIFIED MALE: You know who had a Merry Christmas? The richest one
percent, that`s who. Republicans in Congress made sure of that, protecting
billions in taxpayer giveaways. And for those facing tough times?
Republican`s strip 1.3 million Americans of jobless benefits, folks who
want to work but cannot find a job, kicking them to the curb during

So to the 1.3 million Americans losing benefits, Merry Christmas from the


REID: Is that effective if that runs in the Republican district?

BOEHLERT: I think it`s effective. But again, you know, the Republican
Party seems to be immune from popular argument. I mean if you look at the
polling extending unemployment benefits, it`s very popular. The bipartisan
support, extending -- increasing minimum wage is very popular, bipartisan
support. Go back to April, the gun vote on background check.

REID: Right.

BOEHLERT: 90 percent supported. But the Republican Party is sort of in
that in sphere where they don`t really even react to their own base or
public polling. They had this -- they have adopted this sort of, you know,
radical obstruction strategy that makes it hard for even efforts like this
to appeal to common sense, appeal to people to reach out.

And again, if you`re in the bubble -- in the Right Wing bubble -- in the
Conservative media, it`s really hard to dent that because they have been
hitting this point particularly since the day Barack Obama was inaugurated

REID: Right.

BOEHLERT: . the poor people have it really good in this country .

REID: Yeah.

BOEHLERT: . and that`s the government`s fault.

REID: And a lot of it is sort of tying that to Barack Obama. It`s sort of
the advancing of the law .

BOEHLERT: Absolutely.

REID: . argument to say, "Well, this guy is essentially hand made into the
welfare queen."

BOEHLERT: Right. I mean we saw some of this pushback during the Clinton
Administration, the last Democratic Administration, but it has been
ratcheted up in a whole new way with Barack Obama in office and
particularly the Tea Party. That has been part of their -- instead of
going after big business .

REID: Right.

BOEHLERT: . the way some of us thought the Tea Party might kind of go
after. They decided to go after poor people.

REID: And I mean you study media for a living and I`m wondering if you --
if it puzzles you, the extent to which as you said that bubble can`t be
penetrated .


REID: . because you`ve got to figure in at least some Conservative
district and states .


REID: . there are people on the Right, Conservatives, Republicans who are
also suffering, who .

BOEHLERT: Yes, absolutely.

REID: . are also unemployed, who also need this extension. How do you
suppose it is that that message can`t penetrate even for people like that?

BOEHLERT: Right. You know, I saw the headline, there are 11,000 people in
Alabama that are going to lose their unemployment extension benefits. A
lot of them watch Fox News.

I mean just out of demographics alone, there are clearly viewers on the
Right Wing maybe who listen to Rush Limbaugh, who are going to lose their
benefits come this Saturday. But there`s always seems to be this
disconnect because even though it happens to me, I`m part of this larger
bubble and it`s OK, or that`s the way it`s supposed to be or things like

So, right, and the stereotype is if we`re going to go after poor people,
we`re going to go after minorities, people who aren`t really trying. But
if you look at the unemployment and the long-term unemployment, it`s
affecting everyone. It`s not a story about minority in America, it`s a
story about people who can`t find jobs over the last four or five years
since the crash.

REID: And so now, on a pragmatic, the average -- some America`s
(inaudible) changes .


REID: . are going be done by Democratic groups. Do you know, is there
reporting that there`s any money behind that ad or this is something
intended to go viral online but not a lot of money put on TV?

BOEHLERT: My guess is this is probably intended to go viral. I mean it`s
definitely going to be in some districts, and some California districts --
I think I read. But again, we don`t -- you know, Democrats don`t have the
money. You know, they don`t have the Koch Brothers. They can`t really
tune up the heat like this.

But it should be an effective message and particularly this time of year.
But again, it`s going against a much larger Right Wing media trend which is
hoard (ph) people out of the target even during Christmas time.

REID: Yes. It`s the ultimate Christmas story .

BOEHLERT: Exactly.

REID: . where Scrooge is the hero.

BOEHLERT: Right. And talking about a war on Christmas.

REID: Yes. Absolutely. All right. Well, Eric Boehlert, thank you very

BOEHLERT: My pleasure.

REID: OK. And still ahead, secrets of the Republican 2014 play book and
the Dems half-time report. Plus, you`re invited to a very special
Christmas with the Palins in tonight`s Pretenders which is coming up. But
next, I`m taking your questions. Ask Joy Live is just ahead. Stay tuned.


REID: Welcome back to the Ed Show. We love hearing from our viewers. And
tonight in Ask Joy Live, our question -- first one. It`s from Jane Mills
(ph). If you were to advice President Obama next year, what would be some
of the things you would advice him to do?

All right. Good question. Jane, I would advice the President number one
to sign an executive order that would raise the minimum wage for federal
contract workers. That`s actually something the President can do right now
that would affect hundreds of thousands of federal workers who are staffed
in the museums, who are the guys who are doing co-check when you go into
one of the national mall museums, the guys who are working in the food
court. That would affect a lot of people right now. And I think it would
lay down a marker on minimum wage that Republicans would be forced to
respond to.

Another thing I would advice the President to do, I think he should give a
major speech on the idea of inequality. Now I know, Republicans at this
point tune out everything that President Obama says, that`s branded if they
didn`t. But inequality is the -- I think the guiding issue of our time.
It`s a huge issue, the pope has weighed in on it. And I think a major
speech on inequality also laying out the difficulties of getting
legislation through Congress to change it or to append it, would actually
do a lot to really reinspire the people who supported Barack Obama in the
first place. And I think it would also laid in a mark for the rest of his
term on what his priorities are.

OK. Our next question is from Troy. "When is Speaker Boehner going to
retire and who will take his place?"

Interesting question. So, nobody who climbs the greasy poll of politics to
get from the House of Representatives into the speakers or to get that
speakers gavel, ever gives it up willingly. Nobody just walks away from it
and retires unless they get like a huge corporate job to pay so much money
that it`s worth walking away.

So, I think John Boehner, as long as he can keep getting reelected in Ohio,
is going to stay in that Speaker`s chair. But if he were to ever walk like
even two inches away, I think Eric Cantor is waiting right there to grab
that gavel and like run with it.

All right, our last question is from John. "Hey, Joy. Did you have a good

That`s a nice question, John. And, yes, I had a wonderful Christmas. My
family is healthy and happy and Santa Clause is good to us, regardless of
his race and so my Christmas was terrific. Thank you.

All right. Stick around, the Rapid Response Panel is next.

JOSH LIPTON, CNBC ANCHOR: I`m Josh Lipton with your CNBC Market Wrap. The
Santa Clause rally continues with the Dow rising 122 points matching its
50th record close of the year, the S and P is up eight points, also at a
new high, and the NASDAQ gains 11 to close at its highest level since
September of 2000.

Helping propels stocks higher, welcome news about the labor market. The
number of Americans filing for first time jobless claims fell more than
expected. Claims drop 42,000 last week, hitting the lowest level in almost
a month.

That`s it from CNBC, first in business worldwide.


REID: No rest for President Obama even while on vacation in Hawaii. The
president signed seven bills into law today, including the budget agreement
negotiated by Senator Murray and Chairman Ryan, also, the National Defense
Authorization Act For 2014.

But the Republican Party continues to play explain. If you could believe
this, awe to President Obama for not enough getting done in 2013.


BOEHNER: President`s health care law continues to wreck havoc on American
families, small businesses, and our economy.

REP.MICHELLE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: He has rewritten the constitution
for himself as a part of his effort to fundamentally transform the United
States of America.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), VIRGINIA: The president and House Democrats tried to
hide for years that millions of Americans would lose the coverage that they


REID: OK. Let me get this straight. The 113th Congress passed just 58
laws in 2013. That`s the lowest on-record since 1947. President Obama
signs bills. He doesn`t write them or pass them, but it`s his fault almost
nothing got done. OK. See how that works?

A CNN ORC poll, international poll released today, indicates nearly three
quarters of the public say this has been a do nothing Congress. Two-thirds
of those questions said the current Congress is the worst in their

The lackluster 2013, it left no shortage of agenda items for Congress as we
head in to 2014. Few of them was immigration reform, extending
unemployment benefits, or how about a jobs bill. But the first item on
their agenda might be to start with the man in the mirror.

Joining me is Rapid Response Panel Jimmy Williams, MSNBC Contributor and
Ruth Conniff, Editor-In-Chief for The Progressive Magazine.

So, Jimmy, apparently, it`s President Obama`s fault that the Republicans
can`t get anything done in Congress. Explain.

JIMMY WILLIAMS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. So remember when your
grandmother said if you pointed somebody, you have three fingers pointing
back at you? That would be the problem

So they blame the president but actually, they are the ones that aren`t
doing anything. They come in on Tuesday. They do some stuff on Wednesday.
They do some buds [ph] on Thursday. And then they all get on their place
and they scatter like roaches back to the hinterlands of America. The
building is empty and the American people are going to lose their
unemployment benefits. That`s the problem on Saturday.

So the bottom line is don`t blame the president because he hasn`t send up
bills. I`ll give you a great example what the president did signed up.
Last year, the President of United States, a Democrat, sent a tax bill up
to the Congress that would lower the corporate rate from 35 percent to 28
percent. They didn`t even act on it.

Now, if a Republican Congress can`t act on a bill to lower the corporate
rate by seven percent, then what in the hell can they do?

REID: Yeah. I think the building is empty, it might actually be the
slogan for the 113th Congress.


REID: I think you might have borrowed that from a bumper sticker.

So, Ruth, you had one of the biggest reasons for the president not being
able to get much done. The inspirational leadership, shall we say, of
Senator Ted Cruz, I want to play you something that Senator Cruz had to say
on a Houston radio show on Friday and get your reaction.


SEN.TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We`ve got an incredible opportunity to retake the
Senate in 2014 to retire Harry Reid as Majority Leader. And the number one
thing Republicans could do to mess that up is to refuse to stand for
principle and if the House turns around and passes a giant amnesty bill
that doesn`t secure the border and grants amnesty. I think they might as
well go and put Harry Reid for Majority Leader bumper stickers on the back
of their cars.


REID: So, Ruth, what Ted Cruz is now saying in his role as inspirational
leader of the Republican Party, is that the worse thing Republicans could
do is pass immigration reform? Does that make sense to you?

a nightmare for the Republicans actually and for, you know, for us, I mean,
you know, all we can do is sit and watch them have this internal site.

You know, Speaker Boehner almost lost his majority for shutting down the
government. This perception of the Congress does nothing is one problem
that they have. But the other problem that they have is that they badly
need to court Latino voters who have abandoned them and drove. And they
need to show that they can do something to rehabilitate their image with
women and with minorities.

And where the Republicans are right now in the polls, you know, Ted Cruz
not withstanding is they`re doing a little bit better because they seem to
-- they appear to be willing to govern a little bit and the Republicans
responded well to that. So Boehner`s not in the kind of trouble he was in
right after the government shut down. Polls show the Republicans could
gain some seats in the House.

And so their strategy is to try to freeze time and not move a muscle, you
know, so they can hang on to this. And it`s going to be hard for them to
figure out what to do. You know, they can`t delineate Latinos. They can`t
delineate women anymore than they already have. And they have to try to
appear to able to govern but they don`t want to do too much because they
want to scare people again, right.

REID: And, Jimmy, I think in terms of freezing time, I think Ruth makes a
really good point, but what Republicans seem to want to freeze time on is
one thing only, healthcare. They just want to talk about healthcare
reforms for the next nine, 10 months. Is that enough of a strategy to gain
seats in the house, gain seats in the Senate?

WILLIAMS: Listen, I think they will definitely gain seats in the Senate.
I don`t think it has anything to do with healthcare and the reason I don`t
is because Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor and Kay Hagan, etcetera, etcetera,
they`ve all voted for healthcare, three and a half years ago, their own
record for that. And it`s not like they -- listen, they would have all
retired if their numbers were so bad that they would not be able to win
reelections. So I don`t think that healthcare is going to be drag on those
Senate races.

I do think that the Senate Democrats will lose some seats. However, Ted
Cruz is dead wrong on this which is if all he wants to ever do is talk
about healthcare, his bigger problem is, is that once you going to have
three or four million people that have signed up for it, I`m one of those
people by the way, that -- and it starts working and people are paying
those monthly premiums that are less, mine $400 less than what I was under
COBRA. Then guess what`s going to happen, the system is going to work.
And all they can talk about is how it`s not working but it is working.

So they better come up with something. They better come up with a jobs
plan, they better pass an immigration reform bill out of that House. If
they don`t, the Republican`s legacy for the 30 years is gone as we`ve said.
They better pass a jobs bill. There are lots of it. They better look --
try to lower the cost of college tuition. What do most middle class
families care about? Whether or not they can pay to send their kids to

I don`t know of any bills that have come out of that chamber that have said
anything about that. So they can complain about healthcare for now until
all the way to November of next year. But if healthcare is working, they
better come up with the program agenda as oppose to just talking about
healthcare because that`s going to help them.

REID: And, Ruth, I mean isn`t that part of the danger is that if the
Republicans focus solely on the healthcare reform site, I mean for
healthcare reform or hoping that the website crashes again, I guess for the
November election. Then at least open, a big opening for Democrats if they
choose to take it on things like unemployment insurance, something like the
minimum wage .


REID: . are Democrats organizing themselves around the idea that they can
actually nationalize those issues.

CONNIFF: Yeah, I mean, unemployment is a no-brainer. You know, to cut
people off of unemployment, you know, a couple of days after Christmas is
just -- it`s a brutally bad politics and it`s terrible for people. And the
Democrats are hitting back against Republicans really hard on that. And
that`s why the Republicans are going to have this very interesting problem
when Harry Reid had said he will bring up the extension of unemployment
again, first thing when they get back to Washington.

So let`s see if they are really going to vote against the stand alone bill
to extend unemployment insurance to 1.3 million Americans who, you know,
need it badly. It`s just -- that`s not -- the healthcare thing, you know,
they don`t want healthcare to work and they were handed this gift in the
form of these website glitches so that they could hammer a way on that.
But they don`t want it to work because it`s going to be really successful
for people to see that they can get healthcare as Jimmy points out.

REID: And Jimmy, you know, as important as healthcare and the unemployment
issue are. What is more important among us than Duck Dynasty? I have to
switch topics for just one moment. Because this is the -- the honestly,
seriously, we are learning. That there`s a Republican Alabama state center
from Alabama named Jerry Fielding and he`s planning to introduce a
resolution that will offer Duck Dynasty`s patriarch, Phil Robertson, the
official and unanimous support of the entire state of Alabama.

I want read you part of his resolution. It says, "Phil Robertson and his
family`s admirable stance on marriage, family and faith reflects the
meritorious ideas of the fine citizens of the entire state of Alabama."
Jimmy your thoughts?

WILLIAMS: Well, I`ve dated a couple of gay guys from Alabama and I think
he`s right. They are all fine. I mean, listen, this is a sort of stuff
that you can sit back and you can want to be stuck in the 19th Century, or
hell for that matter the 18th Century.

But the bottom line is the war is over, you lost the war. I`m from the
south, I`ve moved on and if you want to watch a bunch of guys looked ZZ Top
on TV, go ahead and do that. But at the end of the day, I`m pretty sure
you`re party`s going to die because you don`t start appealing as Ruth said
to everybody else in the country, then guess what? The only people you`re
going to have is your buddies sitting in Alabama are ZZ Top and that`s not
helpful to your party.

REID: Yes and I`m wondering if the state of Alabama, when he said the
entire citizenry if that includes the black people who may not agree that
African--Americans .

WILLIAMS: I got it very seriously.

REID: . were happy .


REID: . happy before, you know .

WILLIAMS: And I`m pretty -- there are Democrats in Alabama, there are a
lot of them actually.

REID: And black people. All right Jimmy Williams .

WILLIAMS: And handsome.

REID: Jimmy Williams and Ruth Conniff, thanks to both of you.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

REID: All right. You know how the Republicans are always pounding private
sector exceptionalism? Yeah, yeah, about that. Up next, the yuletide is
receding on this particular brand of (inaudible) logic.


REID: In Pretenders tonight, a Merry Palin Christmas. Sarah Palin dropped
by Fox & Friends to promote her manifesto on Christmas purity. She brought
a treat better than Christmas cookies, family photos.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: In Skagway, Alaska, we will go
play in town where my dad was teaching school and coaching basketball and
that`s my older brother and older sister. And then, that was on a college
break. We`re all in college at the same time, my siblings and I home for
an alumni basketball game in Alaska.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s really the key isn`t it .


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . as we look at another picture .

PALIN: One more.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: . of their family? There they are.


REID: Not so fast, Palin. We learned some important lessons on Monday
about all the arbor activity in those pictures. I even had to break up the
good book, not hers of course.


REID: Certain parts of the Bible also appear to preach against let`s say,
I don`t know, "Christmas trees." Here`s Jeremiah 10:10.

It reads, "For the practices of the peoples are worthless. They cut a tree
out of the forest and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. They adorn it
with silver and gold, they fasten it with hammer and nails, so it will not
totter. Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field, their idols cannot speak.
They must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them. They can
do no harm, nor can they do any good."


Now, at Christmas, a purest wouldn`t want a string from the Bible on
Christmas, would she? Everyone celebrates Christmas in their own special
way. That could mean being tree side with the family or even profiting of
your called incommercialism. But if Sarah Palin wants us to believe
there`s only one true meaning of Christmas, she can keep on Pretending.


REID: Welcome back to the Ed Show. So you know that Republicans always
say that the private sector does everything better? And maybe we should
say, "Replace the post office with FedEx and UPS"? Yes, about that. I`ll
make it personal for a moment.

I am one of the many Americans who got burned by the UPS and
FedEx delivery mess this Christmas. I want my $23 back Amazon.

In that case, the free market made an online driven promise it couldn`t
keep. And both of these private sector shipping companies blamed a system
overload due to increased demand. Sound familiar ObamaCare haters? But
nobody, strangely enough, is calling for FedEx and UPS to be shutdown while
the Republicans called for repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, people are still continuing to flood the health exchanges
because there is a demand just like there was a demand for the Christmas
present we were all supposed to get by Christmas Eve, $23. Anyway, that`s
why the deadlines had been moved. And now, there is more help for people
still trying to sign up for insurance.

Igor Volsky, Managing Editor of ThinkProgress joins me now. And Igor, I
know I`m having personal anxiety over the $23 that I`ve spent extra to ship
goods on Christmas that didn`t get there. So I guess I can understand why
the health exchange is not working really sort of infuriated people. But
do you see an irony in Conservatives not jumping up to scream bloody murder
over this failure of the private sector in the case of the shipping?

you on the shipping. I had wedding photos that didn`t come until today.


VOLSKY: So I understand we`re all very frustrated, but you`re right. I
mean, it is ironic where are the hearings and the calls for accountability
and all that?

I think one of the benefits of having the government service, USPC, the
delivery service there is that there`s more transparency, there is more
clarity, you can, you know, you can just have more accountability in
general. And I think when it comes to the healthcare law, you have a
government structure, you have private insurance working hand in hand to
deliver healthcare. But here, again, it`s an example of the fact that
private isn`t always better.

Private sector has issues, the government has issues, and nobody`s calling
for the repeal of FedEx or UPS. People just want to deal with the
problems. Unfortunately, healthcare has become so politicized that as soon
as there is one mistake, you know, you have days of hearings and kind of a
push to get rid of the whole thing entirely.

REID: No, and people forget how complicated and aggravating it is to even
sign up for insurance at your job, it`s always .


REID: . really complicated. So, these extensions that have cause the
latest sort of round of the anxiety and complaining about the ACA. Who is
actually getting the extra grace period?

VOLSKY: Well, these are the people who are already in line, who try to
sign up but were having some kind of issue, and they`re given some more
time. And it`s kind of ironic to me after months of hearing how difficult
it is to sign up for coverage of all the problems people are having. The
administration is actually being criticized for making it easier for people
who are already in line to sign up for healthcare.

So, you know, they can`t really win in this fight. They`re getting hit no
matter what they do. But certainly, they`re trying to kind of stretch the
time, give people as much as possible for coverage that begins in January

REID: And just by way of debunkment and anti-conspiracy theorizing, if
people don`t make the deadline does that mean they cannot get healthcare at

VOLKSY: No, they`ll be able to. This open enrollment period goes through
March 31st. So, if they sign up for instance in January, they`ll get
coverage the following month. So, there`s still a lot of time for people
to go ahead and look at their options and enroll. And now, hopefully, it`s
easier than it was back in October.

So, you know, I think the administration wants a strong number to begin in
January when they release numbers for December which already looked pretty
good. And then moving forward to March, they think they can get close to
that seven million number, seven million enrolled in the exchanges.

REID: And that seven million definitely exchanges that`s not counting the
Medicaid enrollment because expanded Medicaid .


REID: . I think is the untold story of healthcare reform.

VOLSKY: Absolutely.

REID: Something like four million people already. Why do you suppose
that`s undersold?

VOLSKY: Well, you know, that`s really a great story. You`re right. The
four million people low income Americans who`ve never had coverage in the
past, who are the most likely to be uninsured now finally have insurance.

I mean, it`s undersold partly because there this great, I think distaste
towards Medicaid in a lot of the political conversation and its serves low
income Americans, low income Americans don`t tend to vote a lot so there`s
not a kind of big constituency for it. It`s always been cut in one way or
another but it`s very efficient. Medicaid has been signing people up since
1965, so they know how to do it. They`re good at it. And clearly, I think
the exchanges have a lot to learn from the success of Medicaid.

REID: And how ironic that Medicaid is a program singed up directly to the
government and of course .


REID: . the exchanges of two private companies.

VOLSKY: The single payer system here, that`s the one that`s working.

REID: Yeah, absolutely. All right. Well, Igor Volsky, thank you so much
for your time. I truly appreciate it.

VOLSKY: Thank you.

REID: All right. And that is the Ed Show for tonight. We really
appreciate you joining us. Politics Nation is coming up next with the
Reverend Al Sharpton. And that starts right now. Rev, how you doing?


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