'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, December 26th, 2013
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 26, 2013
Guests: Howard Dean, Carl Gibson, Hunter Walker, Steve Clemons, Joy Reid
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: A healthy 26-year-old journalist has
written an article entitled, "Why I`m Choosing to Pay $300 to Stay
Uninsured." Let`s see if Howard Dean and Ezra Klein can talk him into
complying with the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act and buying
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the second time this week, the White House
announced another extension.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A new deadline.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The administration is sort of stretching its
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The last day to sign up under the Affordable Care
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, it will judge on a case by case basis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regarding the changes in deadlines, insurers are
saying they`re worried about any kind of changes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real deadline is coming in the next few weeks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: January 1st.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now, come January 1st, people will have
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How significant is that deadline?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans would keep the focus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obamacare is going to be their ticket.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On any and all problem with the Affordable Care
SEN. TOM COBURN (R), OKLAHOMA: You can`t fix this mess.
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There is no way to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forever and ever and ever.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It`s put up or shut up time for
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a huge civil war happening in the
CHRISTIE: People expect us to do better.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Did he?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There could be a new twist in a bridge
controversy surrounding Chris Christie.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political thuggery from Governor Chris Christie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They may say it`s bullying. Other people say
it`s a way of getting things done.
MATTHEWS: Christie`s all presidential campaign has taken a hit.
CHRISTIE: I don`t really care.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Republicans would rather keep the focus on the
Affordable Care Act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s going to be their lead issue.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats will start the New Year with a renewed
focus on health care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are so many unknowns.
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: It definitely will be a political
issue in 2014.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s very important for the Obama
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 2014 can be a
breakthrough year for America.
O`DONNELL: The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services say a record
2 million people visited the Healthcare.gov Web site on Monday, December
23rd. And the Obama administration is giving people who had difficulty
enrolling on the federal exchange Monday or Tuesday another chance to get
coverage starting January 1st.
Despite your best efforts, you might have run into delays caused by
heavy traffic to healthcare.gov`s maintenance periods or issues with our
systems that prevented you from finishing the process on time. If this
happened to you, don`t worry. We still may be able to help you get covered
as soon as January 1.
Tell our customer service representative that you -- that you have
been trying to enroll. And explain why you couldn`t finish by the
deadline. They can tell you what you can do to finish your enrollment and
still get covered for 2014.
Joining me now: former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, and former head
of the Democratic national committee.
Also, Ezra Klein, columnist at "Washington Post," and MSNBC analyst.
And Carl Gibson, contributing editor to "Reader Supported News". His
latest article entitled, "Why I`m Choosing to Pay $300 to Stay Uninsured."
Let`s go straight to Carl Gibson`s article.
And, Carl, have to tell you when I saw this yesterday, I read this, I
said we got to get Carl on the show to talk about this. "Reader Supported
News", by the way, is a Web site that sends out a lot of e-mails with its
stories, invaluable stuff which is very helpful to the show. I just wanted
to get the plug in --
CARL GIBSON, RSN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: -- Carl, about your operation.
So, this is what you wrote that struck me. It is something that I
have been expecting to see at some point.
You wrote, "Through Healthcare.gov, I found as a single 26-year-old
male living in Dane County, Wisconsin, who expects to make somewhere around
$30,000 next year, the most affordable health insurance package for me
comes with the deductible anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. That`s roughly
15 percent of my income. That comes out of pocket before my health
insurance eve kicks in. This Affordable Care would cost me about $150 a
month. Why the hell would any young person in this tenuous economy want to
pay upwards $1,800 on premiums on top of a $2,000 to $5,000 deductible for
health care costs that may or may not even occur?"
Howard Dean, I think Carl might need some fatherly advice on this one.
Do you want to answer that question for him?
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR: Well, first of all, let me say unlike
most of the stuff that gets written about health care, criticizing the
bill, this is a really good article. Everybody ought to read it.
I don`t agree with Carl, because, I think in the long run, it`s quite
possible that nothing of the sort will happen. But if you are wrong, and
God forbid you are one of the few young people that gets something really
expensive, you`re in bankruptcy.
And that`s going to affect your credit rating, have all kind of
problems with it. So, it was a well-reasoned article. It was a really
well-written article. It raises a really good point.
But I have to say I think it`s a point that I disagree with.
O`DONNELL: OK, Carl, listen to advice from Howard Dean and Ezra Klein
before you respond.
Ezra, what`s your reaction to that question that Carl poses, which is
basically the affordability of this?
The Affordable Care Act has provided health insurance that Carl does
not believe he can afford.
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: Look, this is something real in the
bill. I wrote the individual mandate is the best deal in the bill.
And the point is, on any given day, for particularly for a young
person, but also for an elder person, it is a good deal to not be paying
any money to health insurer or government health insurer because you`re
probably going to be fine. You`re probably going to get up and be healthy,
and go to bed, and be healthy. And the question is on the days when you`re
not, and that`s why people buy insurance.
Carl is picking up on a point I don think he quite makes in the
article, but could, is that under the bill, under the Affordable Care Act,
did he something he can`t do now? Which is you can decide not to buy
health insurance. And then when you get sick, just wait a couple months,
and having paid individual mandate, you can get insurance currently which
currently right now an insurer would never give you because you would have
You can game the system in certain ways more effectively, post-
Obamacare than you could before.
The thing I will caution is one, you can always be a free rider. It`s
kind of a jerkish thing to do. But you can do it. It`s completely legal
But it is I think a mistake to think about yourself as having a
singular relationship with health care system, to say I`m young. And
that`s my relationship to health care is wrong, because one day you`re
going to be old. To say you are healthy, one day you are going to be sick.
And if every young person and every healthy person decides to game the
system, then when they are old and when they are sick, there will be no
system that is affordable to take care of them.
O`DONNELL: Carl, what`s your response to all this advice?
GIBSON: Sure, well, I`m glad to be on the show. And thanks to
Governor Dean and Ezra Klein for coming on as well.
You know, I think, Governor Dean`s home statement of Vermont makes a
great example of what a great health care system could look like. Governor
Dean, you would know that in 2011, your state legislature, passed a single
payer health care bill, but because of the Affordable Care Act and the
individual mandate and the exchanges, people now have to buy private health
insurance which for people in lower, middle-class income bracket, people
like me have a hard time affording.
You know, I can barely pay my bills and save $100 each month, let
alone pay $180 in premiums.
Now, something similar could be done at the federal level, like that
was done in Vermont. Congressman Alan Grayson introduced HR-500 back in
February. Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter in New Hampshire co-sponsored it
in a May. And for a small fee, roughly equitable to the premium cost that
I would pay under this private health insurance you could buy into Medicare
and Medicare could be expanded for everybody because everybody is paying
into the system. It`s self sustaining.
DEAN: Well, actually, in fairness, we did something very much like
that in Vermont. We actually did something much better than a single payer
in Vermont. In the sense, everybody under 18 in our state has the health
insurance through Medicare and Medicaid. So, essentially what we did what
you are suggesting and more.
And I agree, I think there should have been a public option. We
should have had a single payer. We don`t. And I think we`ve got to live
what we have until it can get better.
But you`re right. Single payer is coming in Vermont. And we`ve got
single payer for kids, and we`ve had since -- actually since 1992 when I
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, the thing --
KLEIN: Let me offer a bit of a contrary point here --
O`DONNELL: Go ahead.
KLEIN: -- if you don`t mind, which is I agree that -- that compared
to what we got, because legislation is always compromised and always less
than we hope it to be, a single payer system designed sort of in a lab
would be a much better system.
But one thing I actually noticed in the original op-ed, Carl, is that
-- it actually struck me a lot, was that one of the things you criticize
the system for doing is that young people are paying too much, in order to
subsidize, as you sort of imply here, older sicker people.
One of the interesting things people miss in the single payer
conversation that happens much more in a single payer system than in this
kind of one. So, the higher deductible and age rating, a young person can
pay a third of an older person. That allows you to subsidize older folks a
whole less. In a true single payer system, the ones we typically talk
about everybody is paying the same into the system, you are having more
subsidy from young to old, which is true in most employ year based systems
You see this on the right all the time too, where they`re furious you
would have any young people subsidizing an old person. They get employer
based health care, where all young people are subsidizing old folks and
There are a lot of problems I think single payer would solve in this
country, but the fact that young people and healthy people end up paying
more for something they don`t need as often as older people and sicker
people. That`s not one of them. That`s core to any kind of insurance,
national insurance system or even non-national insurance system we can
possibly conceive of.
O`DONNELL: Carl, it becomes very clear in your piece that you prefer,
you would prefer a single-payer system, certainly, as I would. Many others
But your problem with the health insurance now, in this market is that
you`re finding at $30,000 income, you cannot afford this $1,800 a year
maybe in premiums. And then that is just if you never get sick and never
use the health care system at all. If you use the health care system at
all, your costs are going to go way above a couple thousand a year.
So, is that affordability issue that I think is so clearly focused in
here, and there is something very odd about the individual mandate as it
applies to you. You have a choice to pay $1,800 in health insurance
premiums, and who knows what in health costs. But at least $1,800.
But if you don`t do that, your penalty for not doing that, paying
$1,800, your penalty is to pay $300. Now, what I don`t get about that is
that the reason parking meters work is that a parking meter costs 50 cents.
And if you don`t pay the 50 cents on the parking meter, you might get a
parking ticket for 60 bucks.
Here, we are saying to you, your penalty for not doing the thing we
want you to spend money on is something way less than the amount we are
asking you to spend money on.
GIBSON: Yes, I think that`s the main issue here. That`s why a lot of
people in my age range don`t really feel like they`re being related to on
the issue and they feel left out of the conversation. There`s a lot of
people struggling from, a student loan debt bubble that`s swollen by a
trillion dollars. And education and health care, they become commodities
in this country that are, you know, made to be profitable by a certain few
group of people at the expense of everyone else.
And if we saw health care instead as a human right, that everybody has
a right to, and that health care shouldn`t be for people who have fat
wallets, and you make something that is affordable, and accessible to young
people. Something like a Medicare buy in, or expanding Medicaid to cover
people who fall into, you know my situation, I unfortunately live in Scott
Walker`s Wisconsin. So, that didn`t happen.
But here in Kentucky, you know, Governor Steve Beshear expanded
Medicaid. He`s got a great system set up with Kynect. There`s been mixed
response from that. But overall in Kentucky, when it`s not called
Obamacare, and it`s called Kynect, it is well received by people.
So, we`re moving in the right direction. If we get to a system where
we pay, you know, a small monthly fee to pay into Medicare, I would totally
participate in a system like that. And I would feel like I was part of
that conversation, rather than, you know, being relegated to this one block
of people who are getting the short end of the stick here.
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, the case that Carl makes in this article is
what they used to call in economics class rational economic man. The
question what would rational economic man do presented with the menu of
dollar choices. The choice that Carl ends up making is one, that it seems
to me, many, many in his age category and income category and his health
category are going to make.
DEAN: Well, the problem here is and, you know, Ezra pointed out, that
he can be a free rider for now. But the fact is what`s going to happen is
what happens in most insurance policies around this country and the private
sector, which is you only going to be able to sign up for one month out of
the year. If you don`t sign up, then you can`t get insurance later on,
unless you signed up in that month.
That`s where the risk is. Ezra is right, there`s not that much risk
to doing this right now.
The other thing is, first of all, I think that, that -- young people
who are trying to get insurance ought to have some sort of a tax subsidy.
You know, trying to pay $1,800, plus $2,000 deductible really ought to --
that`s too much for somebody making $30,000 a year.
And so, the price range got screwed up. There`s a long I mean, we all
know, the flaws, the bill written in Senate Finance Committee principally
for the insurance companies and Lieberman held them up, and got rid of the
public option at the last minute, and all this kind of stuff.
But again, I say we are where we are. We got to make this thing work.
Do our best to make it work. And hopefully it will change as we go on.
You know, 20 years ago, when I did this stuff in our state when I was
governor, you know, we waited 20 years and now, we`re talking about a
O`DONNELL: Howard Dean and Ezra Klein and Carl Gibson -- thank you
all very much for joining me tonight.
DEAN: Thank you.
KLEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up why it is not so hard for some people to imagine
that Chris Christie might actually be involved in that bridge scandal, that
possible bridge scandal.
And later, Edward Snowden claims mission accomplished, and, he wishes
you a merry Christmas on British television.
O`DONNELL: A Russian official responded to a question about the U.S.
delegation to the Olympics, specifically about the game athletes that are
part of the delegation selected by President Obama. Russian Olympic
Committee chief Alexander Zhukov refused to directly comment on the anti-
gay propaganda legislation and gays and lesbian athletes attending the
Olympic Games. He did say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: In the list of the U.S. Olympic delegation announced by
President Obama, there are a few members in the gay community, what do you
think about that?
ALEXANDER ZHUKOV: Who the members of the delegation are -- is the
business of the country that sends them (to the Olympics). The Americans
and Germans include people who they think are necessary (for their
delegations). I guess this how they see the faces of their country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Up next, the latest on Chris Christie`s possible George
Washington Bridge scandal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: Let`s start with this. I sat here, stood here respectfully
listened to you. If what you want to do is put on a show and giggle every
time I talk, then I have no interest in answering your question.
You want to hear the answer or no? Do you want -- do you want to hear
the answer or don`t you?
Didn`t I stay on topic? Are you stupid?
After you graduated from law school, you conduct yourself like that in
the courtroom, your rear end is going to get thrown in jail, idiot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you a bully?
CHRISTIE: No, I`m not a bully. But what I am is a fighter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: As Chris Christie continues to face questions about the
mysterious lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, ordered by two of
his appointees who later had to resign, "The New York Times" reports that
petty revenge tactics may be familiar to the Christie administration. "The
Times" details a list of both Democrats and Republicans who have faced
consequences after disagreeing with the governor.
A former governor who was stripped of police security at public
events, a Rutgers professor who lost state financing for cherished
programs, a state senator whose candidate for a judgeship suddenly stalled,
another senator who was disinvited from an event with the governor in his
own district, and in all most every case, Mr. Christie waved off any
suggestion he mad meted out retribution, but to many the incidents have
left that impression, and it has the been just as powerful in scaring off
others who might dare to cross him.
Joining me now, Hunter Walker, who has been covering this story for
"Talking Points Memo."
Hunter -- this bridge closure controversy possible scandal, is, has
always seemed -- unlikely in and of itself to become a major national story
about Chris Christie in terms of affecting his presidential campaign. But
it does feed into this overall image that is -- only, now, I think being
formed for, what will be -- Chris Christie as a presidential candidate.
And it does seem -- to contain similar elements to the other stories that
HUNTER WALKER, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Well, you know what is
interesting -- he always sort of reveled in having this reputation as kind
of a tough -- guy who didn`t take anything from his opponents. You know, a
lot of the clips you played before, his people had actually posted them on
But now with this scandal and the stories that came out in "The Times"
it really seems like -- people are taking it different kind of look at that
behavior. And, you know it`s not cute anymore.
O`DONNELL: I just want to go over for our audience, the two
resignations, involved in the bridge closure because those are real facts.
Two people came under scrutiny for this, in this story. And they resigned.
Take us through what forced them to resign.
WALKER: Well, the two people who resigned are Christie`s appointees
at the agency that oversees the George Washington Bridge. Both of them are
people directly involved in the decision to shut these lanes that led to
days of gridlock in fort lee, the town where the bridge is based.
And, you know, basically, there have been hearings called by the
legislature, looking into the matter. The guys claimed the closures were
the result of the traffic study. No one has provided any evidence that any
So, you know, that lack of an explanation for why they made this town
-- go through four days of, you know, complete gridlock, has really
bothered people. And, you know, interestingly, one of these guys claim
heed was going to resign end of the month. Christie actually came out in a
press conference on, mid-December, and, you know, said he is gone already.
So, it was obvious that heads had to roll when they had no answers for
O`DONNELL: But what do we know about how the resignations occurred?
Is there public information about Christie`s involvement in those
WALKER: Not so much yet. But, you know, the amount of public
information abut every aspect of this is only going to grow, because
they`re sort of getting attacked on all fronts here. The Port Authority is
conducting an internal investigation. You have Senator Jay Rockefeller
from West Virginia pushing for federal review.
You have the legislature looking into this through assemblies
transportation committee, and you also have journalists that are looking
into this. You have "The New York Times" digging up the old stories of
Christie`s alleged retribution. You have the "Bergen Record", pulling up a
story that in 2010, Fort Lee reached out to Bill Baroni, one of the
Christie allies who resigned and said, hey, we`ve got a big traffic problem
here and, you know, that showed he was aware of it. He promised to help.
And then, three years later when the mayor of the town had a
disagreement with Christie, he`s shutting the lanes.
O`DONNELL: Hunter Walker, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
WALKER: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: Coming up. Edward Snowden says his mission is
accomplished. And he delivered a Christmas greeting on British television.
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, it was an Edward Snowden
Christmas on British television.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED SNOWDEN, NSA LEAKER: Hi. Merry Christmas.
I`m honored to have a chance to speak with you and your family this
year. Recently, we learned that our governments working in concert have
created a system of worldwide mass surveillance, watching everything we do.
Great Britain`s George Orwell warned us of the danger of this kind of
information. The types of collection in the book, microphones and video
cameras, TV`s that watch us are nothing compared to what we have available
today. We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go.
Think about what this means for the privacy of the average person. A
child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all.
They`ll never know of what it means to have a private moment to themselves,
an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought.
And that`s a problem because privacy matters. Privacy is what allows
us to determine who we are and who we want to be.
The conversation occurring today will determine the trust we can place
both in technology that surround us and the government that regulates it.
Together, we can find a better balance, end mass surveillance, and remind
the government if it really wants to know how we feel, asking is always
cheaper than spying.
For everyone out there listening, thank you and merry Christmas.
O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, Joy Reid, managing editor of
TheGrio.com, and MSNBC political analyst, and Steve Clemons, an MSNBC
contributor, and Washington editor at large for "The Atlantic" magazine.
So, here we have another Edward Snowden statement. And once again,
Joy Reid, he says things, every time he speaks, every time, he will say
things that are absurdly wildly overblown. He says that the government is,
quote, this is words -- "watching everything we do."
That is, of course, impossible. No one is watching everything we do.
That capacity doesn`t exist.
He then says, think what about this means for the privacy of the
average person. In fact, for the privacy of the average person, that means
absolutely nothing. NSA, these operations aren`t interested in the average
And then he says kids growing up today will never know of what it
means to have a private moment to themselves -- an unrecorded, unanalyzed
thought. This is so completely impossible. These -- his rhetorical
descriptions of scenarios. The manpower, computer power does not exist on
earth to analyze everyone`s thoughts. Whether they are written or,
electronically conveyed or not.
And Joy, you know, Snowden lovers object to taking his words literally
when he says these things and believes you should just kind of cheer him
on. But I find it odd that every time he speaks he says provably untrue
things like this.
JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: No Lawrence,
you know, and that gets to fort of I guess what has been problematic for me
about the whole Snowden saga, all right?
So first of all, he came out with some revelation that were not new if
you read "The New York Times" and have done for many years, right? So, in
2005, (INAUDIBLE) came out with a blockbuster report about warrantless
surveillance being conducted by the NSA, meaning they were bleeding their
foreign surveillance into the domestic space. And if they were doing this
without a (INAUDIBLE) warrant.
When that happened, I was doing radio on Miami and my hair was on fire
over trying to get listeners interested in. They were really interested.
They didn`t get it. Listen, we want the government to keep us safe. So,
the story sort of haven when.
The democratic response to that was to pass a law in 2006 codifying
that into law. So, by the time Edward Snowden gave this information to
Glenn Greenwald and to Bart Delman (ph) at "the Washington Post," this was
not new. If you read "Vanity Fair," (INAUDIBLE) wrote a whole book about
this. These are ten-year-old programs. And Snowden took what were real
revelations was that this was still going on. But now, warrant had been
attached to it. And then he added just made up, horror story ideas that
were, came from Edward Snowden`s own mind. That the government could, in
theory, watch everything you do. He came up with this fanciful scenarios
that are not themselves journal its m or revelations. They`re Edward
Snowden`s nightmare scenario for what he thinks could be done with the
And one last thing. To say that this is worth than 1984, did he never
read 1984. There were no televisions from the government in our homes
watching us, they haven`t outlawed sex, has anybody seen wrecking ball,
they have been outlawed speaking against the government. Barack Obama, the
president is called everything but a child of God every day. No one is
arrested. So, it is absurd because it is in his own mind.
O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, I do find it odd that someone with his
technical expertise has such rhetorical wildness to talk about the
government watching everything we do. And those are his words. And that`s
just provably untrue. I want to get past that for where -- the other thing
that Edward Snowden has said recently to "the Washington Post," which is
that as far as he is concern it is mission accomplished. He has done what
he wanted by provoking this debate. And he is certainly right that he has
provoked the most important debate of the year.
STEVE CLEMONS, THE ATLANTIC: I think that that is right on target.
That the president of the United States has said that this was a debate the
nation had. But I think while his words may not work for you, they`re
powerfully seductive from many other people.
I heard (INAUDIBLE) the other day talking about J. Edgar Hoover and if
J. Edgar Hoover had been alive today and have the capacity that Edward
Snowden has profiled and shown the world that the NSA has the, that it
would be that no one would be safe. That was Senator Leahy saying that.
Ron Widen (ph) has said things along the same lines. Not in a packed
with the same degree of hyperbole. But I think it is a mistake to discount
Snowden in the sense that he has awakened in many people, a concern about
the balance between, you know, the technological dimensions of being a
connective community and a connected nation. And, that, the side that they
have in fact, forfeited a tremendous degree of privacy.
And I usually agree with Joy in everything. But I think people
actually have much more concern about their privacy than Joy may have
acknowledge when Randall Stevenson of At&T and Eric Schmidt of Google and
Marissa Mayer of yahoo met President Obama the other day, they were all
underscoring how their own customers were making big differences in their
minds between sharing information with those firms, and the government just
Willy-Nilly (ph) getting access off to everything about them. So, I do
think that he struck accord for many people, if not for you in this case.
O`DONNELL: Well, you know, I just want to make this distinction,
Steve and Joy. I think the work he has done is very important and there is
no question about that. And the debate that has been provoked by it is
And by the way, that is separate apart from whether you think the work
he has done is illegal or any of those issues. Those are all separate
issues. And it is important. I think undeniably important. I find it odd
that his rhetoric is so wildly overblown because he doesn`t need it. He
doesn`t need to say that the government is watching everything we do.
There is enough outrage out there, about what we -- what we have already
seen that we know the government is actually capable of doing.
And yet, Joy, he continues to overstate it. It is the his rhetoric is
just wildly out of control compared to information that is actually been
REID: Well, and I think that has been the issue that (INAUDIBLE) have
had with him.
Look, listen. When those (INAUDIBLE) stories came out in `06, this
was a huge and alarming story. And the fact that these things, now, ten
years on, are going on, albeit with warrants. But at the government has
it, other than that change smash the program to something that Americans
And one thing that Edward Snowden said that is absolutely true is that
young people, kids -- my youngest, child is 14 of age, will not grow up
knowing an unguarded sort of unwatched moment. That is true because every
single company that you do business with, every site that you are surfing,
Google, and good old facebook, these companies are making incredible
intrusions that people don`t even know about into their privacy every
single day. What`s new here is that they`re also sharing them with the
government under warrant. But people need new be concerned about those
company`s access as well.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, Steven Clemons, thank you both for joining us to
REID: Thank you.
CLEMONS: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, my very favorite Last Word segment of the year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was inspired my Mr. O`Donnell`s effort to
raise money for kids in Malawi. And 2012, I was watching him, inspired by
him since 2010. And God spoke to my heart. I was going to buy a desk in
memory of my mother and my father. And he spoke to me and said you can do
more than that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And she did so much more than that. She helped create
what became my personal favorite story of the year here on "the Last Word"
and we will show you that story coming up.
O`DONNELL: In Tonight`s rewrite space we are going to have a review
of my favorite story of the year here on "the Last Word."
O`DONNELL: I was a little boy when I first heard about Birmingham,
Alabama. And nothing I heard was good. Police were using fire hoses to
attack civil rights protesters. And later that same year, the 16th street
Baptist church was bombed killing four little girls -- Addie Mae Collins,
age 14, Cynthia Wesley, age 14, Carole Robertson, age 14, and Denise
McNair, age 11.
So when I was invited to Birmingham last weekend, the first place I
went was the Birmingham civil rights institute which has extraordinary
exhibitions telling the story of that terrible time. I saw the shoes,
Denise McNair was wearing when she was killed in that bombing. I walked
across the street from the institute and saw where the bomb was placed at
the 16th street Baptist church.
Three of the girls` funerals were held at the 6th avenue Baptist
church, the church that invited me to attend their services on Sunday
morning. Dr. Martin Luther King, spoke many times, from the 6th avenue
Baptist church pulpit during the bad times in Birmingham.
But Sunday morning, I was invited to speak there because the cub
scouts at the 6th avenue Baptist church wanted to present me with a check
for the K.I.N.D. fund. Kids in need of desks is a partnership I created
with UNICEF to provide jobs to workers in Malawi, building desks that we
then delivered to African schools that have no desks. The cub scout at the
6th avenue Baptist church wanted to do something big for the K.I.N.D. fund
so they worked all year at it and fund new ways of raising every month.
When the congregation and I arrived at church Sunday morning, we had
no idea what these 14 boys, ages six to 11 had been able to achieve. But
when we saw what the cub scouts at the 6th avenue Baptist church had
accomplished in their year of work, on behalf of kids, their age, halfway
around the world. Sure, felt like a miracle to us.
Good morning. You know, I flew down here from my hometown of Boston
yesterday. And I thought just to feel at home I will bring the weather
with me. So you are welcome for that. And I do so feel at home here this
morning because we share so many beliefs and we share so many values and we
share so many ambitions and hopes. One thing we also share is that we all
here believe in miracles.
JULIAN BARRETT, CUB SCOUT: Nobody likes when they sit on the floor,
so -- the kids in Africa, wouldn`t like to sit on the floor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think you will be like crumble at work, messy.
And they were running sitting down on, crisscross at the floor. Your
paperwork is going to be messy.
O`DONNELL: And I said we believe in miracles. Some people have to
believe in miracles because they don`t think they have ever seen miracles.
This is my first time in the city of Birmingham. The city of Birmingham is
a miracle. What has happened in this city during my lifetime is a miracle.
That some people in this room made that happen.
The life of Nelson Mandela is a miracle. We saw that happened. I
will tell you a personal miracle in my life. To be standing here, to be
invited into a congregation as a guest to speak here, that puts my name
somewhere on the long list of distinguished guests who have spoken to the
congregation and that is the only list that I will ever share with the
reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. And that is as great and honor as I
could ever dream of. And I never did dream of it.
Let me tell you about a miracle that I am hoping for. And it`s that
miracle that, that occurs in the educational context. And I know that in a
classroom, if you could put a desk there. If you could maybe just improve
that student`s line of sight to the blackboard, if you could just finally
have that student making eye contact with the teacher, all day. We don`t
know what miracle could happen. We don`t know if that student who was
drifting away suddenly becomes a good student. We don`t know if that
student doesn`t become a great student. If that student doesn`t become a
nurse, a doctor, or the next Nelson Mandela because there has to be a next
Nelson Mandela coming from somewhere, in someplace, in some one of those
MOZILLA PACK, ASSISTANT COB MASTER: We had bake sales, spaghetti
sales and we have car washes. And every month, we did a different project
and the boys were there every step of the way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ms. Pack, she talked to us and asked us if we
wanted to do this. And we took a vote and everybody say yes, we wanted to
because it really touched us that they needed desks in Africa.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It makes me feel like a hero in a way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On behalf of the sixth avenue Baptist church,
Pack 3415. We would like to present the check to the K.I.N.D. fund for
O`DONNELL: That act of kindness, that act of goodness to take these
children off the floor for that seven hours that they`re in those
classrooms, to give them that feeling of a real educational setting, to
give them that little stage on which to perform, that`s good enough for me.
That`s good enough.
They don`t need to become doctors and nurses. They don`t need to
become great students. It`s good enough for me to make their day better.
That`s good enough for me. But right here, in this room, in this city of
miracles, we can talk about miracles. And we can think about the miracle
of $18,000 which is the single largest contribution the K.I.N.D. fund has
ever received from any group anywhere in the three years we have been doing
this. That`s the biggest one. That check is a miracle.
When they see your desks that you paid for, when they see those arrive
at their school, it will be the first desks they have ever seen in their
lives. That is the miracle that you will deliver into their lives, the day
that truck arrives. And they will greet it as a miracle. I can tell you
right now what they`re going to do, they do it every time. The truck pulls
into the school. They come streaming out of the classrooms and they are
singing. They are filled with song. Just the way we are filled with song
here this morning because they are joyful and they are thankful. And you
have delivered a miracle into their lives. Thank you very, very, very
PACK: Every time I tune into Lawrence O`Donnell`s show and see those
kids in the desks. I will be able to say to my boys a job well done and I
am proud of them and I am extremely proud of my church congregation.
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