April 30, 2014
Guests: Michelle Bernard, Joe Conason, Angus King, Judith Browne-Dianis,
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Sterling habits?
Let`s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews back in Washington.
"Let Me Start" tonight with this burgeoning national focus on racial
remarks. Did yesterday`s banishment of Donald Sterling mark a new zero
tolerance in hostile language? Are we entering upon a new era where words
spoken in private or public that carry negative attitudes or views will
face round condemnation?
And what about the political side of this? Is there a new line that
elected officials have to respect? Can they no longer place the primary
blame, for example, for poverty on the poor themselves? Can they defend
cuts in welfare and other support programs by saying people simply don`t
want to work?
Well, finally, are there certain Americans out there who remain even today
able to say the most disgusting things about blacks, for example, about
they were better off as slaves and other ugly nonsense like that?
Well, Eugene Robinson`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with "The
Washington Post" and Howard Fineman is editorial director at the Huffington
Post Media Group. Both are MSNBC political analysts.
Well, there are certain ways you have to speak in a tolerant society, of
course. Your words do matter. And one thing the Donald Sterling incident
has shown us is that there isn`t much that is truly private anymore.
"Washington Post" columnist Kathleen Parker has a great column out today on
what she calls the sobering message from the recent Sterling fallout.
She writes, quote, "If you don`t want your words broadcast in the public
square, don`t say them. Such potential exposure forces us to carefully
select our words and edit our thoughts. Speaking one`s mind isn`t really
all that it`s cracked up to be." I love that line!
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) I am what I am.
EUGENE ROBINSON, "WASHINGTON POST," MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You love that
line? I don`t know.
MATTHEWS: It`s a great line because it`s actually -- I was thinking back -
- I`ll talk about it at the end of this show -- the 47 percent line.
ROBINSON: Yes, right.
MATTHEWS: Your paper is most famous for what? Richard Nixon`s tape
recordings. The days of the private cone of silence with your girlfriend
ROBINSON: No, there ain`t no code of silence.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK, let`s talk about what we`re really focusing and not
little he said/she said. Racially antagonistic, hostile language -- is
there a new zero tolerance in the way we`re going to cover these stories
and the way the public`s going to react to them?
ROBINSON: Well, you know, way back in the past, there was a whole lot of
tolerance, right? Stuff was said in the open. For a while now, it has
been socially unacceptable to say, I think black people are inferior. I
don`t like black people, I think they smell bad, that sort of -- that sort
MATTHEWS: When was that OK?
ROBINSON: -- ugly racism. Well, you know, it wasn`t--
ROBINSON: It was never OK with me. It was never OK with you.
MATTHEWS: Well, may have been OK where you grew up in South Carolina.
MATTHEWS: It may have been OK in the back room somewhere.
ROBINSON: Exactly, exactly. But now there is no back room. And so when
society is confronted, when we are all confronted with, you know,
irrefutable proof that, Here, this is what this person thinks because this
is what this person said, then it imposes a duty to react to that.
MATTHEWS: Do you realize what we`ve been through? We`re all roughly the
same age here. Do you realize we grew up -- you had one of the most
talented performers ever -- he grew up in Washington -- made his living in
black face, Al Jolson. I mean, think about it. "Amos and Andy" we grew up
with on the radio. Everybody listened on the radio. The Mummers in
Philadelphia used to be black face, right? And now -- that was, yes, OK,
right? It`s not -- you couldn`t pull any of that stuff today, nor should
And now we`re getting to this new level of words and words being recorded
and words killing people`s public life, really.
HOWARD FINEMAN, HUFFINGTON POST MEDIA GROUP, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:
MATTHEWS: Banishments coming with it.
FINEMAN: Chris, it`s paradoxical because the progress that we`ve made
makes sensitivity that much more important. We`ve eliminated some of the
gross things that Gene was talking about. That was simple arithmetic.
This is now getting into trigonometry and higher math because we`re an even
more diverse society than we were.
We`re talking about multiple sensitivities--
FINEMAN: -- not only of African-Americans but Hispanics, of people from
Asia, people from all over the world.
FINEMAN: Well, there are more languages spoken in New York now -- well,
there are more languages spoken there than anywhere in the world, and more
than ever before. And so I think everybody -- you mentioned the social
media component of it. That`s important, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,
plus recording devices, et cetera. Everybody`s going to have to live in
this new world--
FINEMAN: -- especially political people. Anybody presuming to speak--
FINEMAN: -- in the political public square has to be sensitive. They just
do. That`s the new reality.
MATTHEWS: Well, if you want proof of how quickly words do spread of racial
hostility in all its variants, look at this on Monday. The leader of a
local chapter of Republicans in Illinois sent out a newsletter. This is
old print stuff, a newsletter. Well, it was out on e-mail, but it was a
newsletter, which attacked President Obama for being mixed race. Of all
the weird things to go after.
"Media update for the week," it goes. "Saw on the news this week the
offspring of a donkey and a zebra, black and white legs, the rest all
donkey. Not sure why this is news. Now we can teach him to read a
teleprompter. We could have two living creatures the media will fawn over
that is part white, part black, and all ass."
This is what`s written in this thing! You know, yesterday, that`s in a
newsletter, caught the attention of the press. The author quickly
apologized, of course, and today his comments were denounced in "The
Washington Post" editorial page itself.
ROBINSON: Well, yes, because, you know, that`s what`s going to happen,
MATTHEWS: But what`s this weird new knock about people that are mixed
background? I think a lot of people -- we`re sort of intrigued by Barack
Obama`s background, you know, a white mother from the Midwest, a Kenyan
father, pretty unusual background. It was seen as a sort of a plus because
it combined the immigrant experience, and it seemed, with the American
experience and the racial experience. And everybody said, Well, this is
fascinating. But this guy -- it`s like that old thing in the cowboy
movies, the half-breed. Is this the new knock on Obama?
ROBINSON: Yes, but who still thinks like that? I mean--
MATTHEWS: This guy, this Republican--
ROBINSON: What rock has this guy been under? There was a time when we
were kids, if you saw, you know, a black man and a white woman or a white
man and a black woman walking down the street together, you know, holding
hands, well, you wouldn`t have seen that where I grew up, but--
FINEMAN: You wouldn`t have seen it where I grew up, either.
ROBINSON: Right. But if you saw it, you would turn your head.
ROBINSON: It would be something that you didn`t see every day, and now you
certainly wouldn`t notice. You know, it would never -- it would -- it
would not occur to you that that was what you were seeing and--
MATTHEWS: Well, what`s the -- why the knock on Obama?
ROBINSON: Who are these people? You know, where have they been?
MATTHEWS: Well, they`re working in the local Republican headquarters
somewhere out there in the Midwest.
FINEMAN: It`s -- it`s--
MATTHEWS: Wait a minute! We got this guy in Pennsylvania who was just
jumping up and down about how voter suppression was keeping people from
voting for Obama!
FINEMAN: I think the point is, Chris, that these things are now stories
everywhere because they are more unusual. I would argue it`s because they
are more unusual because we have such an all-seeing, all-knowing media that
turns every little thing from a small newsletter in Wisconsin into a
We`re seeing what`s left of this in the country, and it gets pushed to the
surface because it`s less usual than it was. It`s less usual than it was.
FINEMAN: And I would argue that overall, the acceptance of President Obama
as the first African-American president has gone over pretty well overall
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) story.
FINEMAN: -- overall in American society--
FINEMAN: We`re missing the big story here.
MATTHEWS: I like that story. I like that story, the fact that Michelle
FINEMAN: For every newsletter--
MATTHEWS: -- largely celebrated as a very attractive--
FINEMAN: She`s the most admired woman in America.
MATTHEWS: Let`s turn to this on national politics, how it`s rubbing
politically. Republican Paul Ryan met with members of the Congressional
Black Caucus today to clear up the air about what he -- the comments he
made on a conservative radio show -- that was the Bill Bennett show --
citing the work of Charles Murray -- he did it, he actually did this -- an
academic who`s argued that black people face certain social disadvantages
because of inferior intelligence.
Now, nobody would touch this, but Ryan did, and here he is.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), FMR. VICE PRES. CANDIDATE: Your buddy Charles
Murray or Bob Putnam over at Harvard -- those guys have written books on
this, which is we have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in
particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even
thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work. And
so there`s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, on Sunday, Buzzfeed published the interview where
Congressman Ryan basically pleaded ignorance here. He said, quote, "It
doesn`t even occur to me that it could come across as a racial statement,"
what he just said there. "But that`s not the case, apparently. What I
learned is that there`s a whole language and history that people are very
sensitive to. Understandably so. We just have to better understand. You
know, we`ll be a little clumsy, but it`s with the right intentions."
Now, that`s nonsense! Basically -- I mean, I`m not saying he`s an evil man
or anything, but Ryan is saying, We don`t need all these welfare
(INAUDIBLE) people are a bunch of bums. I mean, that`s what he`s basically
ROBINSON: Well, you know, if he`s the intellectual brightest light of the
MATTHEWS: Charles Murray -- who`s Charles Murray?
ROBINSON: -- then the party is really--
MATTHEWS: Tell the viewers who Charles Murray is.
ROBINSON: Well, you know, he`s the academic who basically -- whose
research -- "research" I put in quotes -- essentially says that blacks have
lower IQs and they`re dumber than whites.
MATTHEWS: Right. And he would cite him as a pal of Bill Bennett.
ROBINSON: And he`s been thoroughly discredited--
ROBINSON: Why do you quote him? You know, and if you don`t know enough
not to quote him, then you`re not a very bright intellectual light.
MATTHEWS: How about William Schockley? Why don`t we bring him back?
ROBINSON: Well, exactly. We can bring him in -- bring him in, too.
MATTHEWS: You know--
ROBINSON: There is more recent work that I think Murray has been involved
in, in which Murray got the idea, and so broadened his research to talk
ROBINSON: -- white lower-class and working class people, as well, to try
to make a point about where the society is heading. So you know--
MATTHEWS: But not genetic arguments.
ROBINSON: Yes, but you know, some people learn. Some people don`t
MATTHEWS: OK, this thing about -- you know, I don`t think anybody says
Paul Ryan`s -- you know, racist terms thrown around way too much sometimes,
but policy differences -- but there he is basically saying, The reason
we`re cutting welfare, whatever we`re cutting -- school lunch programs,
whatever we want to cut, we can pull back and say, Well, that isn`t the
problem. Their problem isn`t being denied those programs, their problem is
basic bad behavior at home.
FINEMAN: Well, the -- a couple things. First of all, he doesn`t have the
breadth of the vision culturally to really totally know just how offensive
what he`s saying is. I`ll grant him that. He`s from Janesville,
Wisconsin. He`s a guy who loves studying budget numbers. He`s now making
a tour of America to introduce himself to the "bro." I mean, that`s what
MATTHEWS: But doesn`t even--
FINEMAN: The problem is -- the big problem is that the numbers don`t lie,
and if you look at Paul Ryan`s budget proposal--
FINEMAN: -- he whacks away at every program--
FINEMAN: -- at every funding program--
FINEMAN: -- and everything designed to try to help the problems he claims
he wants to address.
ROBINSON: The column I wrote about Ryan wasn`t, you know, Is he racist, is
he not racist, it`s that he kept saying, culture, culture, culture, culture
of the inner cities. That`s a very lazy argument. It`s a lazy--
ROBINSON: -- shorthand for a bunch of mush, basically, in my opinion, this
cultural hypothesis, that culture explains everything. The reason -- you
know, what`s the number one problem that most poor people have? They don`t
FINEMAN: No job.
ROBINSON: -- money. They don`t -- you know, and they don`t have a job--
FINEMAN: Culture -- culture--
ROBINSON: -- and they don`t have good housing.
FINEMAN: And also, culture in America is having a job.
ROBINSON: -- but it`s a very, very lazy argument.
MATTHEWS: Thank you. And let me just go back to my simple replica of
history. The old neighborhood I lived in in North Philly, which was once
Irish, is now black. When it was Irish, my grandpop, Charlie Shields (ph),
could get on the subway and go two blocks to a really good industry job.
MATTHEWS: There used to -- it`s the deindustrialization of the big city,
the destruction of all blue-collar jobs in the inner city area, where
blacks live now today, in many cases. They don`t have the jobs our crowd
had two generations ago.
MATTHEWS: And that`s really the horror and the reason these kids` only
business model that`s looming in front of them is trouble, and that`s the
Anyway, thank you, Gene Robinson, and thank you, Howard Fineman. And the A
students are always going to do well. I`m worried about the B and the C
students. Coming up -- like me.
MATTHEWS: (INAUDIBLE) Anyway, Senate Republicans say no to an increase in
the minimum wage and Democrats smell a campaign issue. And now Rick
Santorum says -- I would say confesses -- Republicans don`t care as much as
Democrats do about the poor. Isn`t that a statement? I think he meant it.
Plus, this isn`t something you see every day, a former Supreme Court
justice testifying before the Congress. John Paul Stevens says it`s time
we all learn who`s paying for these candidates` campaigns. He wants full
disclosure by the Cooks (sic), et cetera -- I`m sorry, the Kochs -- who are
cooking up this stuff.
Plus, that big victory for opponents for voter ID laws, the decision out in
Wisconsin follows similar decisions in Pennsylvania and Arkansas. The tide
-- this is good news for progressives -- may be turning against those
Republican attempts to keep Democrats from voting.
And "Let Me Finish" tonight with this brave new world, where even in
private, what you say can be used against you.
And this is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: New numbers for President Obama and the Democrats in our new NBC
News/"Wall Street Journal" poll. Let`s check the HARDBALL "Scoreboard."
The poll finds the president`s job approval`s up to 44 percent. That`s the
highest it`s been in the poll in six months, believe it or not. Still, 50
percent of the country disapproves of his performance.
And on that all-important generic congressional ballot, the one that asks
who you want controlling the House of Representatives, it`s a dead tie, 45
percent all for both sides. But a tie goes to Republicans because of
higher Republican enthusiasm and the way congressional districts are drawn.
We`ll be right back.
MATTHEWS: We`re back. Democrats have made raising the federal minimum
wage to $10.10 an hour a top priority in this tough election year. But
late today, a bill that would have raised the minimum wage was blocked by
Republicans. The vote was 54 to 42 positively, along party lines, save
from one Republican. But it fell short, as we all know now,. of the magic
60-vote threshold it needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. So it got
a majority vote, but not a 60 vote.
After the vote, Democrats vowed to continue the fight, but it`s not clear
whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will be reintroducing the bill at
all. Here was Reid`s reaction to today`s vote.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Today, we saw a clear distinction
between what we`re fighting for, we Democrats, and the Republicans, what
they`re fighting for. They`re fighting for the billionaires. We`re
fighting for people who are struggling to make a living.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, as Senator Reid made clear, arguing for an increase in the
minimum wage is a key part of the Democrats` larger midterm political
strategy to focus on the poor and unemployed, and they hope their messages
of fair shot for all is going to be a winner, compared to Republican
priorities that they say -- the Democrats say -- favor the very rich.
And in an unusual confession this week, former Republican senator from
Pennsylvania and failed 2012 presidential candidate Rick Santorum broke
with his party on the treatment of the poor. Santorum opposes increasing
the minimum wage, but listen to what he said when asked whether his party
cares as much about the poor as the Democrats do.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R-PA), FMR. SEN., FMR. PRES. CANDIDATE: People ask me, Do
Republicans care as much about the poor as Democrats do? I`m not sure we
do. I`m not sure we do. And the reason I`m not sure we do is because I
don`t hear us talking about them very often, and if you really cared, you`d
talk about the problems they have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, with us now is Joe Conason of the NationalMemo and
Michelle Bernard, president of the Bernard Center for Women.
Anyway, let`s get to this point here. I`m trying to figure what Rick`s up
to. I`ve always find him fascinating. He`s very Catholic, old school
Catholic, very orthodox about it. Could this be the pope`s leadership
about poor (ph) and inequality that`s led him -- I`ll go with you, Michelle
-- that he`s beginning to think, You know, we have a conscience issue here,
a moral question that the Republican Party, his party, hasn`t been
addressing for decades?
MICHELLE BERNARD, BERNARD CENTER FOR WOMEN: You know, I moderated a debate
between Rick Santorum -- with Rick Santorum in the last election cycle, and
I think that this is an issue that he`s always grappled with. He deeply
believes in what he believes in. I think he believes the sentiment that he
expressed in that sound -- in that sound bite that we just heard. But
here`s the thing that`s difficult to deal with with Rick Santorum. He`s
making these eloquent statements about caring about the poor, but this is
the Rick Santorum who has a very simple two-step solution to getting -- you
know, alleviating poverty -- get married before you have children and
finish high school.
And this is the Rick Santorum who said President Obama is a snob. He wants
everyone to go to college -- Rick Santorum has three degrees -- Rick
Santorum who also said during the last election cycle, I don`t want give --
help black people by giving them somebody else`s money. I want to give
them the chance to earn a job.
So there`s a conflict there. Those statements are very antithetical to
somebody who`s saying, I care about the poor, and the Republican Party
needs to do more.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk about this minimum wage thing. I`m always trying to
be political. I`m trying to understand. Did Harry Reid and the Democrats
ever expect to win this vote?
JOE CONASON, NATIONALMEMO.COM: No.
MATTHEWS: OK, so why did they bring it to the floor?
CONASON: Oh, no, this is theater right now, Chris. Everybody knows that
this Senate, this Congress is not going to accomplish much of anything.
MATTHEWS: But, on minimum wage..
CONASON: On minimum wage.
MATTHEWS: Why would the Republicans stand today, except for one person,
Corker of Tennessee--
MATTHEWS: -- right down the line, except for one member, who`s an
interesting member, Corker, by the way, say we don`t care what you guys
throw at us between now and November, we don`t care how many times you say
people ought to make $10 an hour, to hell with you, we`re going to vote
against it -- what gives them the confidence that that`s a winner?
CONASON: Well, I think there are two things.
One is that is what the donor base expects from them, and the other is that
this is the ideological mainstream in the Republican Party now, Chris. You
know, it used to be Republican senators would vote for an increase in the
minimum wage, along with Democrats most of the time, and that`s how we saw
the minimum wage increase over the years.
But the party has changed, gone much further to the right. The mainstream
position now in the Republican Party is the one that the, you know, leading
North Carolina Senate Republican candidate, Thom Tillis, has, who, by the
way, is the leader in their legislature, no minimum wage, no minimum wage,
sweatshop economy, where you can pay anybody anything that they will pay.
MATTHEWS: Squeeze them down to nothing.
CONASON: Squeeze them down.
And, by the way, if we raise the minimum wage, it would get a lot of people
off of food stamps, right? They would making enough money. But these guys
are like, no, we`re not going to raise the minimum wage, and we`re also
going to cut the food stamps. So, what is it now? Is it Malthus? Are we
going to starve people or have them, as Swift said--
MATTHEWS: Michelle -- I know you`re an erstwhile Republican, Michelle, but
that goes back to my favorite rant here, which I picked up from a British
Labor guy, and I`m not as far left as him, but I`ll tell you this. He has
a good point.
Why does the Republican Party say the best way to energize poor people is
to cut them and the best way to energize rich people is to give them more
money with tax breaks? It doesn`t make any sense, does it? That`s
BERNARD: No, it doesn`t make any sense. My favorite economist is Joseph
Stiglitz says that we have to increase the minimum wage. There are more
benefits than harm. Republicans, a lot of Republicans and conservatives
will tell you that their argument against raising the minimum wage is that,
if you do so, there will be disemployment, people will lose jobs, and you
end up hurting the very people who are the poorest people that need these
MATTHEWS: Yes, but everybody poor wants the minimum wage up. Everybody
poor, every group, every congressperson from every poor neighborhood, they
all want it. So, all the labor unions want it because it pushes up
MATTHEWS: If the person at the bottom is $10, then the guy who is a little
bit above the bottom is $12.
CONASON: Everybody gets a raise.
MATTHEWS: So, let`s talk about the politics. We go into November, is this
an issue that is going to get people to vote? And my question always is,
in the language we all use here, is it a voting issue? Abortion`s a voting
issue on both sides of that issue. There are issues.
MATTHEWS: There are issues. Guns are a voting issue on both sides, mostly
on the pro-gun side. Is the minimum wage something that is going to goose
people to show up in those polls in November or not? I`m skeptical. Is it
going to get people to vote?
CONASON: I would be too. There`s a lot of polling data that`s
contradictory on that. On the one hand, the mainstream American position
is, raise the minimum wage.
MATTHEWS: Everybody`s for it.
MATTHEWS: Will they vote for it with their feet?
CONASON: This is why a Rick Santorum, who comes from Pennsylvania, where
you know everybody is for raising the minimum wage--
MATTHEWS: It`s a union state, too.
MATTHEWS: It`s one of the last union states.
CONASON: But, on the other hand, is it a salient enough issue that people
vote for a candidate because of that position or vote against a candidate
because of that position? And that`s -- the polling data is not as clear
about that, so we don`t know.
MATTHEWS: Again, I`ll tell you, older people vote on Social Security. You
start screwing with that, they vote against you. And, by the way, that`s
always going to be an issue. Medicare. Will the middle-aged person, will
the person, the younger person focus on this minimum wage issue and vote
BERNARD: Single women, people of color, I think, will go out to the polls
and will vote on this issue, because it impacts them. We`re talking about
helping 21 million people. It`s only an increase up to $10 an hour over 30
MATTHEWS: Let`s hope people vote on their primary and focused and larger
issues like this, economic well-being.
Anyway, thank you, Joe Conason.
CONASON: Thank you.
MATTHEWS: And thank you, Michelle, Michelle Bernard.
Up next -- of the Bernard Center. I like having a center.
MATTHEWS: Anyway ,up next, the value of being cheap for the Republican who
says poor kids ought to sweep the cafeteria to get their lunch.
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER: Effective immediately, I am banning Mr.
Sterling for life from any association with the Clippers organization or
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Banned for life. Who knows
how many months that might be?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
MATTHEWS: Time for the "Sideshow."
Anyway, the news of Donald Sterling`s lifetime ban from the NBA was the
source of several laughs, as we just saw, on Comedy Central, but leave it
to Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" to link Sterling`s comments with the
crazy things politicians like Sarah Palin have to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": It`s good to see the
distinction here between free speech and consequence-free speech. My guess
is, this is not the death knell for this country`s long and proud tradition
of crazy talk.
SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: If I were in charge --
STEWART: All -- all I can say there is, thank God that is a hypothetical.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Thank God is right.
Palin was speaking at the NRA Convention. That was last week, and like
several of the speakers there, she linked social issues that have nothing
to do with guns to owning a gun.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART")
STEWART: The perfectly acceptable support for sane gun ownership got mixed
up in the whole natural culture war mess. Why would you be talking about
those kinds of issues at a gun convention, unless you think somehow guns
are part of the solution to these cultural disagreements?
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I think government should pick your soft
drink, your snack food, your vices, your home security system, your health
insurance, your electricity source, and your children`s school as well.
STEWART: And that`s why you need a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Solyndra, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Obamacare.
STEWART: And this is why you need a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, Benghazi and Obamacare, are they why we need guns?
Well, give me a break here.
Anyway, finally, the political ads this year just keep getting more and
more amusing. Here`s one for Republican Congressman Jack Kingston down in
Georgia, who`s running for the United States Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our dad is Jack Kingston. He really is cheap, and
it`s not just the car he dries.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will drive five miles on empty just to save two
cents a gallon.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you seen our tupperware collection?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We thought hand-me-downs was the name of a department
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He would call a family meeting when someone opened
the Diet Coke without permission.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, for dad, it`s about personal responsibility
and respecting the value of a dollar.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He will be the same way in the Senate.
REP. JACK KINGSTON (R), GEORGIA: I`m Jack Kingston, and I approved this
message once I saw it was under budget.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Well, here`s the best part. Kingston is the same congressman
who said underprivileged kids need to sweep floors for their school
lunches. Now we see his penny-pinching extends to his own family,
Up next: the rise of dirty, angry, secret money and the ex-Supreme Court
justice who just -- who wants us all to know who`s paying for this -- who
is paying for these campaigns.
You`re watching HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: I`m Milissa Rehberger. Here`s
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MATTHEWS: That`s one nasty Ben Franklin there on the 50.
Anyway, welcome back to HARDBALL. And after more than three decades on the
Supreme Court listening to arguments, former justice John Paul Stevens made
his own today before the U.S. Senate.
Stevens, who was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford, has been
one of the most vocal opponents of recent Supreme Court decisions that
loosened restrictions on anonymous political contributions, which are known
as dark money.
Well, here he is today, former Justice Stevens.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN PAUL STEVENS, FORMER U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Unlimited campaign
expenditures impair the process of democratic self-government. They create
a risk that successful candidates will pay more attention to the interests
of nonvoters who provide them with money than to the interests of the
voters who elected them. That risk is unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: One possible legal remedy to dark money or unlimited
contributions would be disclosure. Should we know if the Koch brothers are
spending millions of dollars to bring down a particular Democratic
Well, Senator Angus King chaired today`s hearing. He is trying to shed
some more light on dark money by introducing a bill to force the disclosure
of contributions to candidates of over $1,000 within 48 hours.
Senator King, an independent from Maine, he caucuses with Democrats right
Senator, I love what you`re doing. Tell us about how you think this would
be better for the country that when a big shot group of people like the
Koch brothers or George Soros or anybody else comes roaming into a state
race, a congressional district, dumping money all the money in the last
month or two to turn that result around their way, how is this going to
affect the voters?
SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: Well, what the real problem for me is that
nobody knows who`s behind the money.
You can trace it back and you might say it`s the Koch brothers or George
Soros or somebody else, but right now there are all these elaborate schemes
to hide who`s doing the donations. You know, Chris, you can`t go to a
Maine town meeting with a bag over your head.
If you`re going to stand up and make a speech, people want to know who`s
saying it. And the Supreme Court in those recent opinions have struck down
the limits on the premise that there`s disclosure. They have said, we
don`t have to worry about these limits because the public is going to know
who`s contributing the money. They can judge the message.
That`s not true today. We have got these -- all these funny structures,
501(c)(4)s, social welfare organizations, but really what they are is
identity laundering. They`re covering up who`s actually giving the money.
I think people ought to have a chance to know who it is that`s trying to
influence their vote. Simple as that.
MATTHEWS: But when you hear arguments like in the "Wall Street Journal"
editorial pages, you hear these arguments that this is just the
progressives` way of hurting people with wealth who want to use their free
speech -- in other words, they are against disclosure, and they say so,
that somehow that it`s predatory.
MATTHEWS: Why don`t people want their names known?
KING: Well, you know, you`re supposed to be -- you know, talk about the
rough and tumble of democracy. Again, if you`re willing to try to take a
shot at somebody, to talk about them, to put an ad on television to tell
their voters why they are such bad people, why are you so shy about knowing
who you are?
I just think it`s a fundamental part of this whole system. And, by the
way, the Supreme Court does, too. They made it very clear. Antonin
Scalia, very conservative judge, said, you know -- this is disclosure and
taking the consequences of your own actions is part of democracy. It`s
part of the rough and tumble marketplace of ideas.
KING: So this idea that, you know, you`re going to hurt the feelings of
somebody who`s making a contribution, give me a break.
MATTHEWS: How are you going to get 60 votes?
KING: Well, you know, we`re talking to some Republicans.
Until a couple of years ago, Chris, disclosure was a nonpartisan issue. It
was a bipartisan issue. The Republicans were for it, too. Here`s what`s
going to happen. We released some data today that just came in yesterday.
In the past, it`s been all Republican money -- 80 percent, 90 percent of
these nondisclosed groups were conservative. This year, interestingly,
it`s now 60-40. In other words, it`s closing up. Once the Republicans see
that this isn`t necessarily always going to be to their advantage, I think
that`s when you`re going to see some political movement.
The truth is, it`s a threat to the whole system, Chris, and we shouldn`t be
making these kinds of decisions based on who thinks it`s an advantage this
year vs. next year.
MATTHEWS: OK. OK. Thank you so much, Senator Angus King of Maine.
Congressional scholar Norm Ornstein, another witness on the committee`s
panel, attacked the Republican notion that money is speech.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, RESIDENT SCHOLAR, AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: I also
want to thank Senator Roberts for putting up the text of the First
Amendment, which I read and reread, as I have done so many times, and I`m
still looking for the word money in the First Amendment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Norm`s a wise guy and a smart guy.
Anyway, Senator Chuck Schumer also laid into his Republican colleagues for
opposing disclosure and contribution limits by hiding behind the First
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I respect my colleagues` fidelity of
the First Amendment, but no amendment is absolute.
Most of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle support anti-
pornography legislation. That`s a limitation on the First Amendment. Most
everyone here believes you can`t falsely scream fire in a crowded theater.
That`s a limitation on the First Amendment.
So, if you impose a view that just when it comes to allowing one person to
put the 7,112th ad on television, that the First Amendment`s absolute, but
in so many other areas it`s not, you have to ask why?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEWS: Why? Well, it`s a partisan answer, I`m afraid.
David Corn is Washington bureau chief from "Mother Jones" and MSNBC
David, I think it`s pretty clear now Republicans still think people on the
right benefit from sneaky money.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, they do, but we don`t know how much. And
we won`t know unless something changes, because as Senator King (ph)
mentioned, you know, there are sort of two paths for money. There`s what
goes through the FEC disclosed donations where you make a direct donation
to a campaign or political party. We can all look that up. Other groups,
dark money, the coalition for better health in America, and they can be
against Obamacare and they can get millions of dollars from any billionaire
who`s angry and they don`t have to disclose.
These are supposed to be social welfare groups, but they really are acting
like their political campaigns in getting around the disclosure and the
limits on both. And it`s real interesting to me that Republicans now are
opposing greater disclosure, which they used to support. I think that`s
like a military creating a forward position, you know, we`re fighting off
disclosure, we`re not fighting about the actual money itself.
MATTHEWS: Let`s talk turkey here. If you`re voting down about Jimmy
Carter`s grandson running for governor in Georgia, or you`re worried about
the North Carolina Senate race with Kay Hagan, and Tillis, do you think
those elections will turn on PACs going on television saying a week or two
on television, the big ads you`ve been watching on television for the last
week were all paid for by the Koch brothers, will that effect a turnout on
the Democrats side?
CORN: I think it`s really hard. I think it`s hard for each side,
particularly the Democratic side, to make money in politics an issue.
MATTHEWS: A voting issue.
CORN: A voting issue, as you talked about earlier on the show, to make it
a voting issue.
Now, the thing is, if you can connect the Koch brothers as Senator Begich
is trying to do, he`s a Democrat running in Alaska against Koch money, if
you can connect their entry in his race to what they do in Alaska, they
have a factory that pollutes, they`ve laid off people, then maybe you can
get a local angle on it and it might work. But it`s hard with people
worrying at wages, maybe even foreign policy, or social, cultural issues,
to then say the real problem here are these guys you`ve never heard of, who
are flooding money with these campaign ads that you don`t know what to make
MATTHEWS: The only thing I can see changing this, and it`s so political an
assessment is that, for example, Hillary Clinton gets elected for eight
years of Democratic rule, followed by two and a half years more of
President Obama, at some point during the course of that decade, they might
be able to shift the Supreme Court back to something reasonable about the
money and speech.
CORN: But remember --
MATTHEWS: It seems to be as long as you got discord, even with Kennedy on
it, you`re not going to get a good result.
CORN: Right, that`s true, but the history of reform as a political matter,
you know this, is there`s no impetus in Congress for change unless there`s
MATTHEWS: Of course not.
CORN: Unless, there`s a scandal. Watergate, the Keating Five, all those
things led to reform, some of which were overturned by the conservative
Supreme Court, but, you know, we got to -- you wait for that, then you --
MATTHEWS: Could that be because politicians think it must be a good
system, I`m here?
CORN: That`s right.
MATTHEWS: Thank you, David Corn.
I`m very despondent about this decision and its constant use of big money
to tell us what to think.
Anyway, up next, big victory for opponents of voter ID laws, and it is a
big victory, and the reason some believe it could lead to more victories.
We`re talking about this effort by Republicans to kill voting
opportunities, especially minorities. It looks like they`re using in the
This is HARDBALL, the place for politics.
MATTHEWS: Once again, I want to tell you about the good work, the very
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Imagine that, the end of that kind of transmission from mother to child by
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And we`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.
Opponents of voter ID laws are hoping that yesterday`s big win in Wisconsin
has opened the door for similar victories in other states.
Here`s the background -- a federal judge ruled yesterday that Wisconsin`s
law requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote is unconstitutional,
because it places an undue burden on poor and minority voters, something
we`ve been saying here a long time. And this big win follows pro-voting
rights rulings in Pennsylvania, where a state judge reaffirmed a ruling
that the state`s voter ID law there is also unconstitutional.
And down in Arkansas where a judge struck down the state`s voter ID law,
saying it violates the state`s constitution. At least 32 states have
passed laws requiring voters to show some form of identification at the
polls, and 16 states have laws in effect similar to the one just struck
down in Wisconsin, requiring a photo ID.
Photo ID opponents in these states could use the Wisconsin state now,
starting today, as a road map to ensure the right to vote is protected,
their right. It`s a road map that uses Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act,
the part that remains after the Supreme Court`s evisceration of the act by
removing Section 5 last year. It proves these ID requirements are unduly
burden on poor and minorities.
Again, what we`ve been saying here.
Dale Ho is director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project. Judith Browne-
Dianis is co-director of the Advancement Project. Both these groups
represented plaintiffs in the Wisconsin case.
By the way, this excerpt from the federal judge`s decision shows how
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act was applied. Quote, "Section 2 protects
against a voting practice that creates a barrier to voting that is more
likely to appear in the path of a voter if that voter is a member of a
minority group than if he or she is not. The presence of a barrier that
has this kind of disproportionate impact prevents the political process
from being equally open to all and results in members of the minority group
having less opportunity to participate in the political process and to
elect representatives of their choice."
Judith, thank you for joining us, again. I`ll get to Dale in a second.
Are you happy that we now have some evidence that the federal judges are
willing to say our Constitution protects us from these undue burdens of
having to vote.
JUDITH BROWNE-DIANIS, ADVANCEMENT PROJECT: Well, I think what`s really
important about this, because this is a huge win for Wisconsin, for voters,
but also for the Voting Rights Act, because, in fact, we see that while the
Supreme Court took a dagger to the heart of the Voting Rights Act, that, in
fact, the other part of the Voting Rights Act is alive and well. And that
it can be used in cases like on voter ID, for example, to show that, in
fact, there`s a disproportionate impact on voters of color.
So, this is a huge win, the ACLU and Advancement Project were counsel in
this case. And I think now what we`re going to be able to do is to use
this decision, and in fact, next week, Advancement Project has a brief due
in our case North Carolina and we`ll be able to rely on this decision.
MATTHEWS: Are you hopeful?
BROWNE-DIANIS: I`m very hopeful. I think this judge set out a road map
for other courts and actually said, in fact, if they went back and tried to
alter that law in Wisconsin, he can`t imagine a situation in which, in
fact, they could get around the Voting Rights Act.
MATTHEWS: Do you agree with that, Dale? Are you hopeful or optimistic
that there`s a pattern of judicial decision making a precedent here that
the federal government in protecting constitutional rights will say people
have a right to vote and you can`t use extraordinary means to demand that
they show things that they may not have in their possession like a driver`s
DALE HO, ACLU VOTING RIGHTS PROJECT: We`re really optimistic, Chris.
There are pending voter ID challenges in other federal courts right now, in
Texas and North Carolina, as Judith mentioned.
And this decision, I think, really buoys our hopes that the courts will
really understand what kind of effects these laws have. What was so great
about the court`s opinion in this case, Chris, was that he said that you
can`t, as a state, just make, you know, unsupported assertions that there`s
fraud going on or that this is important for public confidence. If you`re
going to make it harder for people to vote, and there are hundreds of
thousands of people in Wisconsin, registered voters, who don`t have one of
these forms of ID if you`re going to do that, you need to present actual
evidence that this kind of fraud, that you claim to be preventing, is
And what was amazing was that the state of Wisconsin couldn`t identify a
single case of fraud that this voter ID law would have prevented and the
judge called them out on that.
MATTHEWS: Is this -- can you say in your position, that this has,
partisan? That this effort to come up with new ways of -- with new
requirements was a Republican effort to deal with the demographic time bomb
they faced? That there are going to be fewer --
BROWNE-DIANIS: Oh, definitely. I mean, this is about the demographic
shift, and their desire to continue to hold control in the state
legislators. Even when you look at a state like North Carolina, you know,
what happened in North Carolina wasn`t until they actually were able to get
a Republican governor, that they were able to shove through not only a
voter ID law, that`s restrictive, but also a kind of monster bill of voter
MATTHEWS: Let`s accept the argument, which I do, from both of you, it
seems to me that there`s no rampant corruption out the there. There`s no
rampant fraud. But to the person watching right now, that wants to know,
how do we avoid?
Are there any ways -- what do you think should be the standard, when you go
to vote. Suppose you`re working behind a desk, you`re a volunteer, and
somebody comes in you don`t recognize, you`re not from the neighborhood.
You`re kidding me, you`re not from around here, I`ve never seen you, OK?
How do they deal with that?
BROWNE-DIANIS: One of the things we should know, the federal law, the Help
America Vote Act, already has a set of IDs in it you can use and use it for
your first-time voting. So, your phone bill.
As long as we know who you are, you come in and prove that`s who you are
and this is your address, that`s enough. What we don`t have is --
MATTHEWS: Do you believe it`s enough?
BROWNE-DIANIS: Yes, I believe that`s enough. We don`t have in-person
voter ID. You know, the president`s election commission actually, which
was Ben Ginsberg, showed there was no fraud.
MATTHEWS: Got to go.
OK. We`ll talk about this a lot, because I care about it. I think
everybody should vote. Thank you, Dale Ho. Thank you, Judith Browne-
We`ll be right back after this.
MATTHEWS: Let me finish tonight with this.
This banishment of Donald Sterling offers new solid proof there`s no longer
such a thing as a private conversation. For all practical purposes, we are
talking, all of us in this country, in the same room. Think Richard Nixon
in that voice-activated White House recording system, that archived his
attempt at covering up his henchman`s role in the Watergate break-in.
Think about the 47 percent, that one could argue, cost Mitt Romney the
election. Think about how that sweet little number of his swirled around
the country. Had he never said it, had it never been recorded, just
imagine how that campaign might have gone differently in its final months.
Think about how Romney`s strong first debate performance might then have
Well, today, thanks to the recording by a former girlfriend, we see how a
powerful man, Donald Sterling, has been brought low. Sterling had no idea
that his words in that one-on-one conversation would become a topic of
national conversation, multiple attacks on him and, finally, his being
shunned left to right by practically every public voice in the country.
The big question is whether this decline in privacy, escalating with each
new technological advance is a good price to pay for cleaning up this
country`s dialogue. Well, the answer to that depends on how much denying
people`s ability, to speak ill of others, even in private, will lead to
them treating them better in public.
Will the banning of bad racial speech promote better behavior, better
attitudes? Well, it`s an important question.
As for what`s happened so far, from Nixon to Romney to Sterling, most would
say it`s better that we know what these people were saying, better for
And that`s HARDBALL for now. Thanks for being with us.
"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.
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