'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
April 23, 2014
Guests: Frank V. Rotondo, Jonathan Gruber, Monica Corsaro
ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Guns in bars, in churches, in schools. A new
Georgia law aims for the opposite of gun control.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. NATHAN DEAL (R), GEORGIA: What a great day to be in north Georgia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We start in Georgia.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC`S "ANDREA MITCHELL REPORT": We begin today in
DEAL: We as Georgians believe in the right of the people to defend
MITCHELL: Governor Nathan Deal will find a new law.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The most extreme gun bill in America is now law.
MITCHELL: The measure known as the Safe Carry Protection Act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Critics are calling it the guns everywhere bill.
MITCHELL: Permitting licensed gun owners to carry their firearms into more
public places than you will ever believe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This would include bars, nightclubs.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will allow guns in airports.
MITCHELL: Would you believe into churches and government buildings?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And of course schools.
DEAL: The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many law enforcement agencies are slamming this bill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The NRA calls it a victory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This bill was a lot less bad than it might have been.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is all a politically charged climate here in
MITCHELL: And of course it is an election year.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Nathan Deal is running for re-election.
MITCHELL: And he is up for re-election.
DEAL: I have signed legislation that protects the rights to keep and bear
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Georgia is going on record as the gun state to rule
DEAL: It is a right that is engrained in the very fabric of our nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Good evening. What many have called the most extreme gun bill in
America became law in Georgia today. It is a big victory for the National
Rifle Association. Now whether it is good for residents and visitors to
Georgia will become clear when the new rules officially take effect in
Speaking before a largely gun carrying crowd, Republican Governor Nathan
Deal signed into law today the Safe Carry Protection Act or what critics
call, fairly accurately, the guns everywhere bill.
Gun owners with permits will now be able -- or be allowed to take weapons
into houses of worship, if the individual church allows it, into bars and
restaurants, unless this particular owner objects. The law also clears the
way to bring guns up to the security perimeter in two areas where many
people would shudder to see weapons in airports up until the TSA line and
in government buildings beyond the security checkpoints. The law also
authorizes schools to arm their staff members.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAL: What a great day to reaffirm our liberties.
America today cherishes this right. So that people who follow the rules
can protect themselves and their families from those who don`t follow the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: There is a government building where guns are still not allowed.
And that`s the state capitol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STATE REP. ALAN POWELL (R), GEORGIA: We are at the heightened level of
security at the state capitol. And, you know, that`s quite frankly the
reason it wasn`t included. Now some of us are not afraid of that because
some of us can shoot back.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Indeed. Well, here`s some context. Since the Sandy Hook
massacre, eight states have enacted laws making it easier for employees to
carry firearms in schools, four states have made it easier to carry weapons
in bars. And three states have eased gun restrictions in places of
worship. Georgia`s new law takes effect as I mentioned July 1st.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAL: The Second Amendment should never be an afterthought. It should
reside at the forefront of our minds as we craft, pass, and sign laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now is Frank V. Rotondo, executive director of the
Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, and joining me from her home city
of Atlanta, Goldie Taylor, an MSNBC contributor.
Welcome to you both.
Frank, let`s start with what you just heard there. The Second Amendment
is, of course, traditionally understood as a floor that guarantees some
weapon rights. It certainly doesn`t dictate how many weapon rights you
get, although you heard the governor there making the case, that this law,
somehow carries out the purpose of the Second Amendment.
What do you make of that?
FRANK V. ROTONDO, EXEC. DIRECTOR, GEORGIA ASSOCIATION OF CHIEFS OF POLICE:
Well, I think our legislatures support the governor`s point of view. They
did in fact vet this bill fairly carefully. Despite the opposition by many
groups, which includes my association, the Georgia Association of Chiefs of
We have concerns about the bill. And -- of course, the law which will take
effect July 1st. And we will wait and see. And if we find our concerns
are certainly warranted concerns, we will ask our legislators to readdress
certain parts of the bill.
MELBER: But, Frank, let me push on the question I`m asking here. Do you
think that one has to believe -- if one believes in the Second Amendment,
that means you get to take your gun right up to the airport security line
and into bars?
ROTONDO: No. I don`t believe that that is true. And that certainly is
not the -- the concern or not the feeling that many law enforcement
officials have. Law enforcement officials do believe a little bit more in
control as far as guns are concerned. It`s an officer safety issue but
it`s also a public safety issue.
MELBER: Right. I mean, public issue a huge piece of this. And I can
understand the arguments in some areas, Goldie, that people feel, that more
weapons equalizes things, particularly in very rural areas or places far
away from any kind of other types of protection or law enforcement. Much
harder to make that argument in a TSA line which I think speaks to the
extremism of this.
I want to play for you some sound here of another state representative
talking about this issue, Allen Powell. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
POWELL: There has only been one sheriff that expressed any amount of
concern about that. And the reason the language is drafted in the bill
that there`s been a Supreme Court decision that said that law enforcement
cannot use your right to ask you if you have a concealed weapon permit as
probable cause to basically check you out. And that`s how it was drafted.
So just by the virtue of having a concealed weapons permit doesn`t give
probable cause. You got to be violating the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: And, Goldie, I don`t want to sound out of touch with a certain
part of the sort of Georgia community here. This has a lot of local
support. But I find it to my ear odd to hear someone who`s talking about
trying to carry a gun everywhere, feeling that they are the ones sort of
targeted by police or the potential victim here.
GOLDIE TAYLOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I think it is probably one of the
more unfortunate components of this legislation. You know to say that --
you know, as a gun owner, I am not required to -- to produce a permit, not
to law enforcement, not to, say, the church leader who would have to agree
to let me bring my gun into church. And that I am not, you know, forced or
required to produce this. Unless until there is an incident.
And I think that that`s where this law really sort of falls down on its
face. We`ve in essence militarized our schools, our churches, our bars and
nightclubs that they them as such. Our non-secure governmental buildings.
You know, we have said to people who own guns in this state that they are
able to bring guns into those atmospheres. And it really sort of changes
the dynamics as you know.
You know, holding a gun itself sort of changes your personal dynamic. But
what it doesn`t do? It doesn`t equalize things, Ari. You know, if you
look historically at mass shootings across this country you can scarcely
find an incidence where having a good guy on site with a gun stopped a mass
shooting in progress.
It certainly didn`t happen in Columbine when you had armed resource
officers on school grounds. It did not stop the massacre there. It didn`t
stop Aurora. It certainly did not stop what happened in Sandy Hook. And
so, you know, you really have to look at this on the facts and while this
all sounds good on paper it falls down on its face when facts are
MELBER: Yes, Frank, maybe you could speak to that given your law
enforcement expertise here to Goldie`s point. From your perspective in
terms of public safety, if you walk into a potential danger zone or a bar,
do you find it to be additive to security if more people in the bar are
ROTONDO: No, I don`t believe that it`s adding to security. And to
Goldie`s statement, I do confirm the fact that it is problematic for law
enforcement to speak with somebody, see they have a weapon on them, and
under certain circumstances not be able to ask whether they have a carry
Obviously what incentive is there to get a permit if a law enforcement
cannot ask for a permit? And that person produced a permit upon demand.
The law does say that there has to be reasonable suspicion to be able to
ask -- that another crime is being committed to ask for the permit. But
that sort of defies logic in a way. And that takes away from the officer
MELBER: Yes, I think that makes sense.
Goldie, I also want to play for you some of Governor Deal speaking
specifically about the NRA here. You can say that they are out front and
open about what they`re up to. They are not one of these secret groups, I
will give them that. And they are so popular in some states that you have
politicians who are more than happy, while doing supposedly public interest
-- legislation to say, well really this is for my NRA buddies.
Take a listen to Governor Deal here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DEAL: My position on this bill should not come as much of a surprise. I
think my track record speaks for itself. The NRA gave me an A rating
throughout my more than 17 years as a member of Congress and even endorsed
me when I ran for this present office of governor.
Now as governor, I`ve signed every Second Amendment piece of legislation
that has been placed on my desk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Goldie, you follow politics like I do. I am hard pressed to think
of another example of a prominent official coming out to sign something and
point to one political organization and talk about why this is for them and
they stand together.
TAYLOR: You know, I followed Nathan Deal`s career since the beginning and
he`s right about that A plus rating from the NRA. But when is he going to
start listening to the people of Georgia? The people in these 159
counties? The people who are for increased background checks? The people
who are for limits on high capacity magazines and military assault style
weapons? You know the people who are for closing, you know, the gun show
loopholes in this state?
You know when is he going to begin answering to the people of Georgia,
rather than the people who are lining the Gold Dome with more dollars. And
that`s exactly what the NRA is doing. They have put a number of our state
and federal legislators in their pocket. And so it doesn`t come as a
surprise for me that he would sign this legislation especially in a year
where it`s going to become more competitive for him to even retain his seat
He has more competition from both the left and from the right. And quite
frankly he is running farther to the right in order to make sure that he`s
able to secure, you know, his base in what we think will be a fairly low
turnout vote this fall.
MELBER: Yes. And Frank, also, while I have you here, the Stand Your
Ground provisions here, which have become very controversial for a wide
range of reasons, your thoughts on those in this bill?
ROTONDO: Well, it certainly does, support the Stand Your Ground concept.
In fact, an actual felon who shouldn`t have a gun could actually stand by
the right to use deadly physical force if they feel it is necessary and not
be subject to any penalties associated with carrying an firearm.
MELBER: Yes. All right. Well, I appreciate all of the insights here.
Frank Rotondo, and your public safety expertise, and Goldie Taylor from
Atlanta. Thank you both.
TAYLOR: Thank you.
MELBER: Coming up, the deal that Republicans don`t want but their states
do. And you will never guess who is telling Republicans they need to get
over their Reagan mythology and trumped up belief in voter fraud. When
rand Paul ran a fact check. That is coming up.
And one of the most interesting spontaneous protests that broke out this
week. It was started by the NYPD, but accidentally.
MELBER: Jeb Bush attended a Catholic charities fundraiser in New York
today and it was supposed to be closed to the press but his answer to one
question leaked out pretty quickly. An attendee tells the "New York Times"
that when Jeb was asked about 2016, he said he was, quote, "Thinking about
running for president." The former Florida governor said he would make a
decision after the midterm election.
Coming up next, more proof that fighting Obamacare might be hurting
Republicans more than they realize.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This does frustrate me.
States that have chosen not to expand Medicaid for no other reason than
political spite. You`ve got five million people who could be having health
insurance right now at no cost to these states. Zero cost to these states.
Other than ideological reasons they have chosen not to provide health
insurance for their citizens.
That`s wrong. It should stop. Those folks should be able to get health
insurance like everybody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: There are 19 states that have flat-out refused to expand Medicaid
even though the federal government under the ACA would pick up 100 percent
of the cost now and 90 percent of the cost from 2020 on.
Now you may have heard 18 of those 19 states are led by these red
Republican governors there. Eighteen of those 19 governors are running for
re-election in 2014. All Republicans. Two of those Republicans are facing
some jitters now among their base that they may not make it through
November. They could lose to Democrats who, as you might expect, could
green light Medicaid funding which has proven popular in blue and red
So local Republicans here are now working on a backup plan in Kansas and
Georgia. The Republican-controlled legislators passed bills that take away
the governor`s usual power to accept Medicaid expansion without the consent
of the legislature. Kansas Republican Governor Sam Brownback signed it
into law, while Georgia Republican Governor Nathan Deal, who we`ve been
talking about on other issues, is expected to do so soon.
You`ll probably not be surprised to learn that the American people even in
the red states are more supportive than Republican politicians of the basic
idea of providing this health care coverage to the working poor. People
who make usually about $15,000 a year. The people who would be eligible
for that Medicaid under the expansion.
The "New York Times" upshot and the Kaiser Family Foundation polled two
states whose Republican governor have refused to expand Medicaid. This is
interesting. In Louisiana, 52 percent of people support expanding it,
compared to 40 percent who don`t. In North Carolina, the number is even
higher, 54 percent support expanding Medicaid, 38 percent do not.
Joining us to break down the numbers, Jonathan Gruber, an architect of both
the Massachusetts health care law and the ACA, he`s a professor of
economics at MIT, and Krystal Ball, my colleague and co-host of MSNBC`s
Welcome to you both.
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC`S "THE CYCLE": Thanks for having us, Ari.
JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS: Thanks, Ari.
MELBER: Krystal, let`s start with the basics. I ran through a bunch of
numbers there but the takeaway of course is a key part this law, the
predicate that deals with poor people who need coverage is super popular.
BALL: Very popular. And actually the president said, you know, this would
cost states nothing. To expand health care and provide it for some of
their poorest and neediest of citizens. In a lot of states actually
they`re literally spending money to keep their citizens from having health
care. In Louisiana, their own state budgetary analysis said that they`re
spending about $100 million a year to keep their citizens from having
health care and they`re missing out on about 15,000 new health care jobs
that could be created in the state.
This comes from a lot of additional revenue that could go to hospitals in
the state. So it`s insanity. It can only be justified on a partisan
ideological basis, makes no sense and in fact I think is absolutely immoral
MELBER: Yes. You`re making such an important point. And I want to just
build on it because what you`re referring to is the fact that when people
aren`t covered, as we all know, they can end up in the ER.
MELBER: And people spend that money in other ways. The "Times Picayune"
in Louisiana which you mentioned talked about this. I`ll put it up on the
screen. They say the state`s own analysis found, as you`re mentioning,
Krystal, that Medicaid expansion would save Louisiana between $13.9 million
and $77.8 million in 2014 and as much as $134 million in 2015. They go on
to explain why.
Jonathan, you have been in and out of this game for a long time. Walk us
through that basic thought, that basic concept here that you can save money
this way and the CBO numbers reflecting save even more than people thought.
Why isn`t that penetrating more?
GRUBER: You know, Ari, I wish I knew. When the Supreme Court made this a
state decision, many of us said look, if you look at your basic economic
model, this is free money to states to help their poorest citizens. Why
would any governor in his right mind turn it down?
I`m not going to conjecture about whether these governors are in their
right mind. But clearly they are not doing what`s in the best interest of
their citizens. It`s political malpractice, really, if you think about.
The goal of governors is to make their citizenry as well off as possible.
There is literally no one in these state who`s worse off if you expand
Medicaid. The poor people get health insurance. The rest of the citizens
get billions of dollar of federal funds inject into their state. It`s --
as Krystal said it`s insanity.
BALL: Yes. And I think another piece of what we`re seeing here is that
Democrats in these states are starting to seize on the fact that it is
actually popular even in red states as you`re pointing out to expand
Medicaid. So again, in Louisiana, Mary Landrieu has started talking about
the Bobby Jindal gap, which is this gap in coverage, residents, and she`s
highlighting specific community members who could -- could have health
insurance if he would just go forward and expand Medicaid.
So politically, it think ultimately this -- and I`m optimistic about this.
I think this is an unsustainable position. We`ve already seen some red
state governors, some Republican governors like Jan Brewer go forward with
the Medicaid expansion because it just doesn`t make sense. It`s popular as
Jonathan said. It`s political malpractice. It is public service
malpractice to deny this to your citizens.
MELBER: Yes, I mean, what you just said is so important because we`ve
heard so much heat around the concept of Obamacare. Everyone remembers the
White House even decided at one point should we try to get people to call
it the ACA, then we go back Obamacare.
MELBER: Sometimes people feel differently about it depending on what
they`re told it`s called. But when you say something like the Jindal gap,
right, which brings to mind like the Carter recession or Carter
stagflation, you want to brand some of the negatives on to some of these
Republicans as a political strategy.
Jonathan, to that point, let me play for you Republican Tea Party
Congressman Tim Huelskamp at a town hall pretending I guess to care about
the uninsured? Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM HUELSKAMP (R), KANSAS: The numbers we see today is that -- as I
understand them, and we believe there are more people uninsured today in
Kansas than there were before the president`s health care plan went into
effect. And I thought the goal was to bring more people on insurance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: OK. So just a couple of things. Number one, the Kansas Health
Institute says the state`s uninsured rate did decline from about 13 percent
in `09 to 12 percent in 2012. So he`s a little off there. One could argue
it is close. But more importantly that`s getting lost in the numbers is,
since when do these Tea Party congressmen care about people being
uninsured. The whole point of repeal is to make sure more people are
GRUBER: Look, I mean the opponents of the law are just taking a spaghetti
approach to opposition. They just throw everything against the wall to see
what sticks and they`ll try anything. And I think the main point that we
emphasized to your listeners and to people around the country is to get
educated, to understand that look, you may not like certain aspects of the
president`s plan, but there is no reason to oppose Medicaid expansion.
None at all.
And there`s no reason to vote for a politician who does. And let`s inform
the voters about what they`re giving up by their governors not expanding
MELBER: Yes, and Jonathan, I wanted to ask you about something else you`d
written recently, which is, you were saying that this $7 million, $8
million number that originally grew out of a CBO projection really took on
a life of its own. Tell us what you meant by that. And the fact that if
there`s a silver lining to any of this and as someone in journalism who
covers Obamacare constantly, I don`t feel apologetic about it.
It`s one of the most important domestic programs for people`s lives. And I
hope that in covering and exposing some of this something good could come
out of it. But you were arguing that when we cover it sometimes, we
actually get too caught up in these magic numbers from the CBO.
GRUBER: I absolutely think so. The CBO`s numbers are not policy goals.
They`re projections. Look, what matters at the end of the day is how many
people have we covered. We won`t know that until the end of the year. And
really we won`t really know it for about three years. This is about a --
we should take it as a three-year phase in process. That`s how long it
took in Massachusetts to really get to where we are, you know, where we
need to be. That`s how long the CBO projects it`s going to take.
So we`re really on a three-year path. We`re one quarter of one year into a
three-year path towards covering 25 million to 30 million Americans. And
we need to be patient and recognize that. And as the data comes out, we
need to look at it but not make up numbers like the congressman you are
BALL: Right. Well, and the other lie from the congressman here that
you`re alluding to is the idea that he cares.
MELBER: That`s right.
BALL: That the uninsured rate didn`t drop so much because, A, he and his
ilk have offered absolutely no idea for how to cover these individuals and
in fact have been actively cheerleading for people not to sign up.
Actively cheerleading for this law to fail, which think about that. I
mean, it`s so easy to become cynical and say, yes, of course, Republicans
are going to oppose this law and not want people to sign up.
But they are cheering for a law to fail that has a potential to cover, that
is covering millions of people.
BALL: And could be absolutely transformative. And they want it to fail.
GRUBER: And I think it`s --
BALL: That shocks the conscience.
MELBER: Just briefly, Jonathan.
GRUBER: I think it is very important to understand the tough bind the
Republicans are in. Let`s have a little sympathy for them for a moment.
GRUBER: Obamacare is a Republican idea.
GRUBER: OK. This was proposed by Republicans. Adopted by Mitt Romney.
President Obama to his credit took the bipartisan step of adopting this
Republican plan. He took their ideas. So now the Republicans have no
GRUBER: There`s nothing left for them. They just can play around. But
there is no alternative to Obamacare because it is the Republican plan.
MELBER: Right. No, and people mention that. It means a lot coming from
you, Jonathan, as someone who helped write it in Massachusetts and is still
very much in this specialty and in this fight. So thank you for your time.
GRUBER: My pleasure.
MELBER: Krystal, always nice seeing you twice in one day.
BALL: Indeed. It is a treat.
MELBER: It`s a treat. A special treat.
Coming up, when Rand Paul says what other Republicans know is true but they
don`t dare say it themselves.
MELBER: In the spotlight tonight, a Republican spitting truths, his party
may not want to swallow.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: (INAUDIBLE).
We wanted Reagan to have balanced budgets and he didn`t do it. And it was
not being personal against him. I think his philosophy was good. I just
don`t know that he had the energy or the follow through to get what he
Jimmy Carter`s last budget was 34, 36 billion in debt. Well, it turns out
Reagan`s first budget turned out to be 110 billion in debt. And each
successive year, the deficit rose through his good turns. Why did the
deficit rise because spending rose more dramatically under Reagan than it
did under Carter. Reagan is a conservative. Carter is a liberal. Not
necessarily always what it seems.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: "Mother Jones" magazine reported on the videos today. And no
matter what you think of Rand Paul`s politics. On some of the issues, he
is a rare fact checker in the GOP caucus.
Today`s Republican party is not just conservative on economics, it is often
delusional on economic history. So Republican candidates don`t just battle
over who is more Reaganesque, they also compete in a factory litmus test
over who can pretend Reagan was more of the deficit cutter.
But Rand is right. Every single one of President Carter`s proposed budgets
had a lower deficit to GDP, excuse me, percentage than any one of Reagan`s
proposed budgets. Another Reagan related fact, the Republicans also might
want to remember, President Obama`s rate of government spending increases
is lower than president Reagan`s. By that matter, Republicans may already
have their best candidate in office.
Joining me is now Richard Wolffe, executive editor of MSNBC.com and an
MSNBC analyst and Patricia Murphy, contributor in "the Daily Beast" founder
of Citizen Jane Politics.
Welcome to you both.
PATRICIA MURPHY, EDITOR, CITIZEN JANE POLITICS: Hi, Ari.
RICHARD WOLFFE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: Thank you.
MELBER: Richard, let me start with you. Those videos are not all new.
Some of those are from the last several years and "Mother Jones" put them
together. But to take away is still, Republican who is willing to actually
go toe to toe with the facts of Reagan`s economic legacy.
WOLFFE: Right. That was Rand Paul back then. A reason the videos are
old. Takes a different track now. And yes, there is the Rand Paul who is
willing to challenge the orthodoxy within his party. He is a fiscal hawk
or has been at various points and that can be appealing to people who don`t
like the parties as they now stand. They are now looking for something
The problem with Rand Paul is that he says something different, different
times to different audiences. And we saw that very vividly when he started
talking civil rights to Rachel Maddow. And it is fine to question things
and reputations. But, who is the Rand Paul who seems to be running for
president right now.
MELBER: So let me build on that point that you raised.
Patricia, I want to get your thoughts on this. So I read a statement from
Rand Paul today regarding the "Mother Jones" article where he says quote "I
have always been and continue to be a great supporter of Ronald Reagan`s
tax cuts and the millions of jobs they created. Clearly spending during
his tenure did not lessen. But he also had to contend with Democratic
majorities in Congress.
Now, I got to tell you, Patricia, you can read that more than one way. You
can read it to criticism that Richard is offering. You could also read it
as still basically fact factual and saying I do like the tax cuts, but
there was a spending problem.
MURPHY: And I think if you listen to the tapes, and really, if you listen
to Rand Paul today, if you listen to Rand Paul during any one of his
father`s campaigns, he has been -- I actually have seen him be relatively
consistent in that he is consistently challenged the Republican party. His
criticisms have not always been the same. That even in that statement, he
is saying yes, he did like the tax cuts. And some of his old statements,
he is criticized Reagan, criticized George W. Bush, criticized a number of
other Republican, Republican congresses for blowing up the federal budget
with defense spending like Reagan did. He also said that Reagan had more
domestic spending than Jimmy Carter which is true.
And I think for Rand Paul, he at least deserves credit for being the only
Republican in Washington, and really anyone that you can find anywhere who
is willing to criticize his own party and put forth idea that are new and
that challenge the idea that anything the Democrats do is wrong. And the
opposite and equal reaction is what the Republicans decision should be.
MELBER: Yes. And also -- yes, and I think speaking in hypothetical in
politics is very easy. I think there is something powerful about dealing
with some of the history because is the predicate to so many illusions
about how you can manage the economy. And it is not just on the economics.
I also want to play and get your response, Richard, on election fraud which
is another fact free, GOP, bogeyman and he was having a discussion. This
is brand new with David Axelrod. And he starts up by saying, well,
sometimes dead people vote. But then he gets real. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: Dead people still do volt in some elections -- vote in some
elections there is some fraud. And so, we should stop that. And one way
of doing it --
DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC/NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: The incidents of fraud is
PAUL: Probably is. And I think Republicans may have overemphasized this.
I don`t know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, I`m not going to give out like a big cookie, Richard. I`m
not like one of the whose -- you know, birthday cookies that are really
oversized. But I would give a small political party to anyone on the right
who deals with this, because all the studies show from NYU (INAUDIBLE)
center, with the bipartisan election commission, there is not a serious
voter integrity problem in American elections. And a great number of his
colleagues pretend there is to their shame.
WOLFFE: Yes, small cookie. Small cookie is going to talk to David Axelrod
in Chicago because he knows what he is doing there. He is obviously
compromising himself for certain Republicans there. And he is clearly
reaching out to independently minded liberals, progressives, Democrats and
trying to do some of that.
But it is very selective. And maybe the press release tomorrow is going to
say, well of course, I still think voter ID is a great idea. He is trying
to have it both ways. When he puts it out, saying Reagan spending was
rally the result of Democrats in Congress. That may be partly true. But
it is actually not really, it doesn`t qualify as fact checking. Because
there was that whole thing about the cold war build-up. And the massive
defense spending that was driven by Ronald Reagan not actually by the
Democrats in Congress.
MELBER: Yes. And to that point, and Patricia, let me play this for you.
There was a little more of that two-note, you know, shuffle step. That`s a
southern expression you wouldn`t maybe understand. It is American south.
She is making things up.
But listen to him talk about Jeb Bush and trying to hit two notes here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: My first thought was that I think he is well intentioned in what he
is trying to say. But -- and if you were to ask me what I would have said.
I would have said that people who seek the American dream are not bad
people. But that doesn`t mean we can invite the whole world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Patricia, on immigration there, sort of splitting the difference
between one extreme no one really believes, open borders, the whole world.
And what Jeb Bush had famously said, a lot of viewers will remember, that
folks emigrating here with their families are doing it out of love.
MURPHY: Yes. I think that he is trying to both be a potential
presidential candidate and trying to be Rand Paul. And those can be two
diametrically opposed instincts. Rand Paul just likes to talk about things
and put forth hypothetical and say what about this? What about that?
Anybody running for president needs to be consistent and hard hitting and
clear. And if you are running for the Republican nomination, you need to
be relatively, actually incredibly strident. And I think that is where
Rand Paul is running into problems. And if you compare him even to a Ted
Cruz, I saw them. They were both speaking at a forum in New Hampshire
called freedom forum. They both were talking about progressive issues.
In a way, Ted Cruz was telling people, we have all been victims of the
Obama economy. But, but Rand Paul took a much more sort of nuanced
economic view and said can`t you understand why people need to be helped?
Can`t you have some compassion? And that really fell relatively flat in
That was a Republican audience. They didn`t want to hear that. They
wanted to hear we are all victims now. Can`t we all fight against this?
And he -- Rand Paul didn`t take that tact. I give him a lot of credit for
that. I don`t think that is a good way to run for president. But maybe,
maybe Americans and maybe American voters are tired of the old way we run
for president. And they want to have a new way to run for president. And
that is a very dicey experiment. Rand Paul is attempting if he wants to
MELBER: Yes, I hear you on that. I just wrote down one word you said
which was "academic" and from Stevenson to Rand Paul, you always have to be
careful if people start thinking you are an academic presidential a
Richard Wolffe and Patricia Murphy, thank you both for joining me.
WOLFFE: Thank you, Air.
MURPHY: Thank you.
MELBER: Coming up, what happens when the NYPD tries to use social media to
And later, the Boy Scouts wanted a church to remove its scoutmaster because
he is gay. The church refused. And the pastor of the church joins me,
MELBER: In today`s episode of wisdom from unexpected sources, World
wrestling legend Stone cold Steve Austin has a pod cast about wrestling.
But something he said last year is just starting to burn up the internet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN, WRESTLER: You know, there has been a lot of [
bleep ] stuff in the news lately about same-sex marriage. Everybody is
going crazy about this and some of the churches say no can do, you can`t do
that. I am for same-sex marriage. I don`t give, a [ bleep ] if two guys,
two gals, guy gal, whatever it is, I believe that any human being in
America, or any human being in the God [ bleep ] world that wants to be
married, same sex more power them to them.
And what also chaps my [ bleep ] Teddy, is that one of these churches or
some of the churches have the high horse that they get on and say we as a
church do not believe in that which one of these [ bleep ] talked to God
and God said same-sex marriage was a no can do.
OK, so you, two cats can`t get married if they want to get married. But
then a guy can go murder 14 people, molest five kids then go to [ bleep ]
prison and accept God and he is going to let him into heaven after the fact
that he did all that [ bleep ], that`s horse [ bleep ] that don`t jibe with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now you know. Coming up, the Boy Scouts of America told the
church pastor she had to dismiss a scout troop leader because he is gay.
She refused. And the Boy Scouts revoked their entire charter. That pastor
will join me.
MELBER: It all started earnestly enough. Largest police force in America
fried to do community outreach on line this week. The NYPD invited people
to post pictures of times they had been with police officers. The official
message included the picture of two officers with a man sporting an NYPD
hat right there. The NYPD promised that some might be featured on the face
book page. The idea was to engage the public on the police`s softer side.
Some New Yorkers were definitely game. People tweeted pictures and fond
memories of people posing with officers. And that`s one story the police
wanted to tell.
But it`s not the only story. Especially not in New York where the NYPD is
a huge part of city life. The force is larger than the en entire FBI and
it is often a controversial one. In the past few years along, it faced
criticism for clashes with protesters, surveilling Muslim communities and
systematically stopping and frisking young black men.
Now, here is the thing about telling the story in a two-way media. The
people can respond with their own story. And that`s what many started
doing. First in New York, and then around the country. And by last night
even around the world.
Stories like this of people apparently battling the police over their right
to protest in March. A seemingly peaceful civilians facing excessive
force. Of people alleged leap facing off against the police and most raw
in a city that only just reformed racial profiling on the stop and frisk
variety after mayor de Blasio took office, pictures that evoke the
indignities and failures of that profiling practice.
And these stories didn`t just sit on line. They totally overtook the NYPD
story. They percolated from the grassroots and into the media and then
boomeranged back on the city itself.
In a political environment where it often feels like you need coke money or
a coordinated campaign or at least some kind of long running blog to get
any attention, these grassroots stories made headlines in "The New York
Times, in the "Reuters," "Time" magazine, "Le Mode," "Network News," and
plenty of other political outlets plus the front page of the New York
tabloid today. Precisely because this pushed back with so simple, it is a
available anyone with a photo to share and internet connection. It was a
protest template that its already spreading well beyond New York.
There are posts from people who say they`re in L.A. using the #mylapd,
sharing that online who seen tweets said to from Mexico with the
#mipoliciaAmericana. And as far away as Greece, reports of people
translating this to a hash tag online and the pictures keep coming.
And also consider this. In a security environment where we talk a lot
about surveillance, the government watching us. This sudden turning of the
cameras on the government brings to mind a different turn of surveillance
(ph), that`s what professor Steven Mann (ph) defines as the use of
recording or cameras to monitor or check authority.
I was reminded of that dynamic today when Commissioner Bratton was asked to
account for all this push-back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL BRATTON, NEW YORK POLICE COMMISSIONER: Most of those photos that I
looked at, they`re old news, they have been out there for a long time. The
reality of policing is that often times our activities are lawful but look
awful. We are continuing that campaign. And that the campaign hasn`t
stopped. We are asking people if you have photos, send them in.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Commissioner called it old news. It`s not old news to a lot of
the people sharing the stories. And we are just over a day into this. And
pictures and conversations are still pouring in on line. If you check on
twitter and other streams, often several hundred in an hour.
And when you combine the sharing on social media and the coverage now in
the traditional press, millions of people have already heard something
about this completely spontaneous effort. Anyone who follows politics
today knows about the simplistic and often false choice of whether we
should be agitating on the internet or on the streets.
But here is the thing about most of the photos. They were all taken in the
streets. They all happened in the streets. Yet many of them didn`t
achieve initially any great impact, let alone hey response from the city or
the press until they found traction through the online publishing
Now, these publishing platforms aren`t a democracy and they`re obviously
far from perfect. But sometimes they do give people way more say over
what`s important. Over what we think should be news than other forms of
protest. And that just might scare politicians in a good way. If you ask
people for their stories, you better prepared to listen to them.
MELBER: Scouts for equality which works to end anti-gay discrimination in
the Boy Scouts announced recently that the Walt Disney company will stop
allowing employees to raise money for the scouts through Disney`s volunteer
program because the scouts ban on gay adult leaders, because of it.
Up next, the pastor who refused the Boy Scouts` demand to dismiss a gay
MELBER: Even though the Boy Scouts of America voted last year to overturn
the ban on gay scouts, the organization still doesn`t allow openly gay
scout leaders. And one boy scout troop in Seattle decide they`d wouldn`t
go along with that kind of discrimination. The troop`s leader is Jeff
McGrath, an openly gay eagle scout who has been married to his husband for
20 years. And last month, he had said in an interview that he thought he
was the only openly gay scout leader in the nation.
That`s no longer true, however, because the Boy Scouts of America revoked
his status as a scoutmaster telling him quote "if a volunteer makes an
issue out of his or her sexual orientation especially to the youth we serve
and that volunteer is no longer eligible to be registered leader," end
quote. The pastor at the church that sponsors boy scout troop 98, however,
refused to dismiss McGrath and as a result, the troop has lost its charter
Joining us now is the pastor, pastor Monica Corsaro of the Rainier Beach
United Methodist church. Welcome.
PASTOR MONICA CORSARO, RAINIER BEACH UNITED METHODIST: Thank you. Thank
you for having me.
MELBER: Tell us about this. Your decision and what you are hoping to
achieve from here?
CORSARO: Well, we only want to have the best kind of programming we can
have for our young people in Rainier Beach, the Rainier Beach area of
Seattle. And so, we are going to continue to look for creative ways in
which to do that.
MELBER: Yes, and you have said earlier that this wasn`t exactly a fight
that anyone was looking for. That you thought Mr. McGrath was qualified
and that`s why you wanted him.
CORSARO: That`s exactly right. He is an eagle scout as you mentioned.
And he has a masters in social work. And most importantly, he has a
passion and love for scouting and a passion and love for kids.
You may not know, but we are, we are the most diverse neighborhood in the
United States. Meaning we have immigrants, refugees, middle-class, kids,
kids that need good adult male role models. And Jeff had the passion for
that. He got so much out of scouting himself. He just wants to share it.
MELBER: Yes. No, I actually do hear you on the neighborhood. I grew up
about a mile north of where your church is there, just by Rainier Beach.
And that`s another piece of this culturally, right? It is the boy --
people have sometimes one vision of the Boy Scouts. There is a very famous
Supreme Court case testing their discrimination policies back in 2000. As
you of course know, I just want to read from it. At the time justice
Rehnquist wrote, basically, public or judicial disapproval of the tan and
of the organization`s expression doesn`t justify the state`s effort to
compel them to accept members on such acceptance delegate from the
organization`s expressive message. That is legal code for you can
discriminate if it is super important to you but you can`t do it if it is
not part of your founding principles. And the Boy Scouts, as you know, for
many years claimed it was. Now they are in the sort of hybrid argument
about you can be in but you can`t be a leader.
Do you think that can hold, can stand?
CORSARO: Well, that`s the confusing message, isn`t it? To be able to say
that, that a boy from eight to 18, can be gay, and then at 18, he is to
turn off the gay? You know, what does that mean?
And so I, I think the Boy Scouts are finding themselves in a confounding,
confusing issue. But we are clear at Rainier Beach and our Methodist
church that when we say we welcome all. All means all. And you don`t have
to change yourself when you turn 18.
MELBER: And let me ask you, as you well know, former defense secretary
Robert Gates will become the new president of the Boy Scouts next month.
He served under Obama during a period when they tried to deal with don`t
ask don`t tell. What would you look to say to him?
CORSARO: Well I think that is kind of fortuitous, or what we might say in
the church, providential. It seems if somebody can help work out this
issue, so that boys of all ages get the care and the, and the scouting
tradition that has been around for over 100 years, and that the -- the men
who are eagle scouts who want to be scout masters, scan be scout masters.
I think now is the time and it is fortuitous for all of us.
MELBER: All right, Reverend Monica Corsaro, you get tonight`s "Last Word."
Thanks for joining us.
CORSARO: Thanks for having me.
MELBER: You bet you.
I am Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell. You can find me on Facebook at
And "ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" is up next.
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