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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

March 12, 2013

Guest: Robert Reich, Monte Frank, Rebekah Havrilla, Anu Bhagwati, Jonathan Capehart.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The most recent losing vice presidential
candidate who will never be president has discovered it`s hard out there
for a budget hustler.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan will unveil a

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Putting out yet again a budget.


ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: As untethered to reality as the last two

RYAN: This is a document, a plan that balanced the budget in 10

REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: It doesn`t give an inch, it`s
totally uncompromising.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fantasy, trickery, the same tired tune.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The same budget he`s put out over and over again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the year before and the year before that.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: Ryan and House Republicans are marching

RYAN: We are not going to refight the past.

TODD: But it`s as if the 2012 election didn`t happen.

RYAN: The election didn`t go our way, that means we surrender

ARI MELBER, THE NATION: He`s a health care hawk.

RYAN: Let`s Obamacare for example.

JANSING: The plan assumes repeal of the president`s health care law.

RYAN: Something that we`re not giving up on.

VAN HOLLEN: It`s the same old stuff.

RYAN: Because we`re not giving up on destroying the health care
system for the American people.


RYAN: We are not giving up on destroying the health care system for
the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He says he wants to repeal Obamacare.

RYAN: We don`t like this law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But somehow magically maintains savings of

BASHIR: Please explain that to me.

VAN HOLLEN: It is absolutely impossible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That doesn`t make sense.

WAGNER: Recall if you will campaign 2012.

RYAN: Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars -- $716 billion --
funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.

WAGNER: President Obama`s $700 billion savings.

RYAN: We are going to stop it.

TODD: Well, they`re not restoring those cuts.

MELBER: I think Washington has called them serious for so long.

BASHIR: As if we are dumb as bricks.

MELBER: In treating this fake charade like it`s a budget.

RYAN: This is a document.

WAGNER: Unrealistic.

VAN HOLLEN: Uncompromising.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not a serious effort.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The la la land fantasy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s more like fiction for Ayn Rand than it is a


O`DONNELL: Tonight, President Obama had the audacity to suggest that
Washington`s "Holy Grail", a balanced budget, is not actually the holiest
thing you can pursue in government.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Paul Ryan today put forward his


STEPHANOPOULOS: And says he is challenging you to come forward with a
budget that reaches balance. Are you going to do that?

OBAMA: No. My goal is not to chase a balanced budget just for the
sake of balance. My goal is how do we grow the economy, put people back to
work, and if we do that, we`re going to be bringing in more revenue, if we
controlled spending and we`ve got a smart entitlement package, then
potentially what you have is balance, but it`s not balance on the backs of,
you know, the poor, the elderly, students who need student loans, families
who`ve got disabled kids -- that`s not the right way to balance our budget.


O`DONNELL: And the glow is off Paul Ryan budgets, even for
Republicans, including former Ryan worshipper Rush Limbaugh.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Now, there are people that don`t
like it, even on the Republican side because it has tax increases in it.
Some would say tax increases on the rich. It leaves some of Obama`s tax
increases in it.

The Heritage Foundation has done deep analysis of this. One of their
problems with the Ryan budget is, and they do have problems with it, is
that hefty tax increases of Obama`s are maintained. They`re kept in it.
They`re not done away with.


O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan`s budget leaves in the increase in top income
tax rate that President Obama achieved in January. The conservative blog
Red State noted the Ryan budget leaves in 1 trillion in tax revenue in
President Obama`s health care reform bill, including taxes on tanning
salons and high value health care plans, which provoked Erick Erickson to
question whether House Republicans should even vote for it.

"Since Paul Ryan`s budget keeps the Obamacare tax revenue stream,
isn`t voting for his budget a violation of the repeal pledge?"

And in an interview with CNBC today, Paul Ryan could not continue to
pretend his budget choices had any attachment to reality.


LARRY CUDLOW, CNBC: In terms of your budget, if you don`t get it this
year, likelihood of getting repealed this year is very, very, very low --
does it blow a hole in your 10-year budget?

RYAN: Sure, it blows a hole in your budget because it calls for
continued spending. But what is a budget? A budget is our vision for how
we should fix this country`s fiscal problems.


O`DONNELL: Bob Greenstein, the president of the Center on Budget and
Policy Priorities and this program`s most trusted budget analyst, issued a
report tonight on the Ryan budget saying in critical ways the budget is
exceedingly vague and as a result its claim to reach balance in 10 years is
hard to take seriously. The budget`s fiscal claims rest on massive magic

Joining me now are Joy Reid, managing editor for "The Grio"; Jared
Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities;
and Robert Reich, former labor secretary and professor at the University of

Joy Reid, when he is in an interview with Larry Kudlow, who used to be
the biggest Paul Ryan worshipper in the world, gets down to the question is
what is really a budget? I mean, he is on the ropes here.

JOY REID, THE GRIO: No, absolutely. There was another part of that
interview with his former BFF, Larry Kudlow, where he says we had to accept
the tax increases that were passed in January because we`re not going to be
able to repeal those, but we`re going to repeal Obamacare, even though
everybody understands they`re never going to repeal that. He is talking
around the realities because he can`t get his numbers to add up unless he
absorbs a lot of policy that Barack Obama championed that he says he hates.

And in addition to that, I`m just waiting for Paul Ryan to explain why
it is evenness to balance the budget in 10 years? What is he going after?


O`DONNELL: What did you just say, why is it necessary? What`s the
matter with you? Why is it necessary to balance the budget, most important
thing you can possibly do, isn`t it? They have been saying that for years.
There`s nothing more important than balancing the budget.

REID: He said it on a business channel. Do businesses not run
deficits? Anyone who`s ever bought a house with a mortgage isn`t running a
balanced budget.

The key to economic growth is not balancing your budget because no
household would ever be able to finance a home or car or a major purchase.
This economy runs on debt, big, huge businesses don`t run balanced budgets.
They take on massive amounts of debt.

So, they never explained that relationship is of balancing the budget
at all to growing the economy, and they`ve really not explained why you
have to do it in 10 years.

O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, there is image of Paul Ryan as the serious
man of Washington and Republican circles on budget matters and this is
something that Bob Greenstein addressed in his report on the new budget and
did it in a series of questions, on the question of just how courageous is
Paul Ryan. Bob said, "Is it courageous to propose tax cuts but not
identify a single tax expenditure to rein in?"

Robert Reich, that seems to not be the courageous position.

courageous, Lawrence, but we have seen it before. This is a rerun exactly
of the Romney/Ryan budget. They had magic asterisks, they had loophole
closures that they didn`t know, couldn`t identify they were going to give
to Congress.

The only difference is this is a more extreme budget. This is the
Romney Ryan budget we saw last November, but it`s on steroids. It is --
you know, he wants to get rid of Obamacare. He wants to get rid of Dodd-
Frank. He wants to get rid of more of the spending programs that the
middle class and lower middle class and poor depend on.

This is not a budget that is designed for coherence or logic or even
arithmetic. This is a budget that`s designed primarily to move the
goalposts further to the right in anticipation of some sort of negotiating
strategy down the road.

O`DONNELL: Jared Bernstein, this point about tax expenditures and
Ryan not going (INAUDIBLE), as we know, there`s two kinds of spending in
our budgets, what we consider direct spending like pay for a military
salary or the spending we have in the tax code. We have a tremendous
amount of spending in the tax code in the form of tax deductions and tax
shelters, all sort of things like that.

And that`s the kind of spending that Paul Ryan doesn`t seem to
recognize as spending.

there is over a trillion dollars of tax expenditures or spending through
the tax code and there are programs by which, for example, we provide child
care through direct spending for people that buy child care, and then
there`s child care which we provide to a dependent child care tax credit.
Really, the function is exactly the same, but one gets administered through
the tax code. So somehow that`s protected by this ideology that you can
never raise taxes.

Now, interestingly, Mitt Romney as you mentioned, without any
specificity, Paul Ryan without any specificity, and many others on the
Republican of the aisle consistently say, yes, we want to close loopholes.

But Bob Reich is exactly right. It`s not just that this is a rerun of
policy that lost in the election, it`s mathematically actually a much
heavier lift. I won`t take you through the math right now, but actually,
Romney had about seven points of revenue to makeup and Ryan has about 15
points of revenue to makeup.

So, it`s actually as twice as heavy lift with no more specificity than
we have before.

O`DONNELL: And, Joy, there`s another question Bob Greenstein asks in
his report about the courage of Paul Ryan.

Is it courageous to target your deepest cuts on the poorest Americans
who vote in lower numbers and provide little in campaign contributions?

REID: Exactly, while still trying to exempt current Medicare
recipients from cruelty of going to voucher and just saying only future
seniors are going to have to tattle out to the insurance and try and buy a

But what he does in his budget is absolutely cruel. There`s nothing
courageous about saying it is on Medicaid, rather than paying doctors to
reimburse for Medicaid, we`ll give that all to the states. Meaning, if you
live in the state where the governor is conservative and an Ayn Randian
like Paul Ryan, they can just change the eligibility rules and bounce you
off Medicaid and leave you with nothing.

He wants to do a lot of those same things with programs for the poor -
- food stamps, he wants to take away the federal component, block-grant it
to the states so therefore, if you`re in a state with an Ayn Randian
governor who decides that it`s immoral to give you food stamps, they can
change eligibility and bounce you off of food stamps.

This is the cruelest budget Paul Ryan has come up with yet and that`s
saying a lot, because Paul Ryan`s basic notion of the way you run the
economy is cruelty.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to him talking to Larry Kudlow one more time
where he backpedals to the point of just saying, well, this is really just
a negotiation position.

Let`s listen to this.


KUDLOW: Are you kind of putting a stick in the president`s ear?

RYAN: Yes.

KUDLOW: You had lunch with him.

RYAN: Right.

KUDLOW: Did you tell him at lunch you were going to call for repeal
of Obamacare?

RYAN: He knows exactly the kind of budget we were coming up with. I
gave him more or less the kind of budget we were going to come up with.

And let me put it this way, just ask a person watching the show who`s
in business. Do you start with your last offer first in a negotiation?
No, of course not.


O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, I guess this is his first offer in the

REICH: Well, not only is it first offer in the negotiation, I think
it also attempts to establish a framework for what`s the objective here?

I mean, Paul Ryan is now in position to say we have a plan. Now, it
may be incoherent, it may be illogical, it may not add up, but we have a
plan for balancing the budget in 10 years. Democrats, what`s your plan for
balancing the budget?

Now, it is now incumbent on the president and Democrats and the
president started and he needs to keep hammering this home, to say that
balancing the budget is not necessarily good. In fact, in an economy like
we have today, it is bad to balance the budget. That`s not an appropriate
public goal.

What we should be worrying about instead are jobs and wages, widening
equality. What we need is growth. And if we don`t get that, where you can
just -- all of this budget balancing nonsense is irrelevant.

O`DONNELL: Jared, there`s some dispute, the Ryan team seems to be
backpedaling on the question of -- are the Obama health care taxes really
in their budget or not? They`re definitely there when you look at the
revenue assumptions that they have, but they seem to be claiming or trying
to claim that, no, no, I think we would get rid of tanning salon tax also.

BERNSTEIN: Yes. I actually believe them on that. I believe that the
-- in repealing Obamacare, they`re also not taking credit for the revenue
from the Obamacare taxes.

And let me just get back to a point I made earlier. You see, they
have to raise something like $7 trillion in revenue to offset their tax
cuts. They can`t do that. Mathematically, it`s impossible.

If Mitt Romney couldn`t make the math work, this math is twice as
hard. So, really, interestingly, this is a plan to increase the budget
deficit because they`ll never offset those tax cuts.

O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, Jared Bernstein and Robert Reich -- thank you
all for joining me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

REICH: Thanks, Lawrence.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Connecticut came to Washington today to plead
the case for gun safety. I`ll be joined by one of the Sandy Hook
Elementary School parents who bicycled from Newtown, Connecticut, to
Washington, D.C.

And in the rewrite tonight, the rise and fall of Jack Johnson, the
first African-American heavyweight boxing champion, 100 years after he was
convicted of racially motivated charges by an all white jury, an unlikely
coalition in Congress is asking President Obama to pardon Jack Johnson.

And later, judging by their list of speakers, there`s nothing at all
serious about the Conservative Political Action Conference. Jonathan
Capehart will join me to explain why Republican comedians like Sarah Palin
and Donald Trump will get more speaking time in Washington this week than
Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: Since December 14th, when 20 children and six women were
massacred at Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, more than 2,605 people
have been killed with a gun in the United States. But that body count has
not yet been enough to convince Congress to act on gun safety.

One man from Newtown did his part today to push Congress. He`ll join
me next.



MONTE RANK, FROM NEWTOWN, CT: Here is our message. Please put
politics aside and get it done. Get it done for Grace, Jessie, Vicki and
Jack, for Dylan, Ben, Daniel, Noah, Avielle, Jessica, Madeline, Dawn, Mary,
Lauren, Anne Marie, Rachel, Caroline, Charlotte, Olivia, Josephine,
Catherine, Chase, and James, Allison and Emily. Let`s try for a safer,
more peaceful nation for all of our children.


O`DONNELL: A team of 26 cyclists rode into Washington from Newtown,
Connecticut to deliver two letters urging them to pass sensible gun
legislation in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. Team
26, as they call themselves, were met by members of Congress, including
Connecticut`s delegation.


REP. JOHN LARSON (D), CONNECTICUT: Wherever you stand on this issue,
Congress has an obligation to vote, and the citizens of this country have
got to demand that Congress take a vote.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: Those Republicans and Democrats
who are still undecided in their heart, they know what the right thing to
do is. In their heart, they know if we don`t take common sense steps to
impose background checks and get military-style assault weapons off our
streets, that they might have to go through the same numbing crisis that
Newtown is still going through today.

REP. ELIZABETH ESTY (D), CONNECTICUT: This is the Connecticut effect.
This is why we will pass legislation this year.


O`DONNELL: Team 26 arrived in Washington on the same day the Senate
Judiciary Committee approved a Democratic bill mandating background checks
on all gun purchases and sales, including private transactions.

NBC News learned today that senators negotiating that bill are
privately expecting the National Rifle Association not to fight the
measure, provided that legislation does not require private gun sellers to
maintain records of the checks. But the NRA later denied being part of any
agreement. The Senate Judiciary Committee also approved a measure by
California Senator Barbara Boxer to boost funding for school security.

Today, Vice President Biden said this.


opponents at an organizational meeting said not long ago he expected,
quote, "The Connecticut effect to fade." That effect isn`t going to fade
in memories of families who lost their children or loved one. It`s not
going to fade my memory. It`s not going to fade in the president`s memory,
and it`s not going to fade in memory of the people of Connecticut.

And I would argue not in the memory of the people of the United
States. The American people want things to change.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, the leader of Team 26 who rode nearly 400
miles to the capitol, Monte Frank.

Monte, thanks for joining us tonight.

FRANK: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Now, Monte, your daughter Sarah had graduated from
elementary school, in middle school now. But one of her teachers was one
of the teachers killed in the massacre, isn`t that correct?

FRANK: Yes. She had Vicki Soto as a third great teacher when her
regular third great teacher went on maternity leave. It was Vicki Soto`s
first teaching job, brand new teacher, wonderful teacher. My daughter
became very close with her.

O`DONNELL: And what is it like today in Newtown, Connecticut in the
aftermath of this tragedy. We have been hearing about the Connecticut
effect in Washington, some people saying maybe we just have to wait for the
Connecticut effect to fade and this issue can go away. Others saying the
Connecticut effect is driving this issue.

What is the Connecticut effect in Newtown tonight?

FRANK: I think we`ve seen the Connecticut effect. It is clearly
growing. We had a tremendous rally in Newtown when we left Saturday
morning, tremendous enthusiasm. We then -- essentially our ride has been a
rolling rally. In each of the towns that we have visited, we have received
tremendous support. We received support from people in pickup trucks
driving by, and rolling down the windows to say thanks for what you`re
doing. As we rode into town today, we went over a highway, and there were
trucks below blasting their horns in support.

If the Connecticut effect is fading away, then it`s hard to imagine
what that is because I think it is clearly growing. And, clearly, as we
talk to Americans, it`s pretty clear that America is with us.

O`DONNELL: Gabby Giffords tweeted, "If your legs get tired, remember
we`re in this together, keep pedaling, best wishes to our friends on
Newtown to D.C. ride against gun violence."

One of the parents of one of the children who was killed was one of
your riders.


O`DONNELL: Was it a harder ride for that parent than for anyone else
on that trip?

FRANK: Chris McDonald was one of our honorary Team 26 members. Chris
is a close friend. Chris and I have talked a lot, talk to him every night.
I think it was hard for him to turn around after 26 miles because I know he
wanted to continue with us.

But what he said to me and told me to tell the guys is, as you`re
riding, if you get tired, know that Grace is on your wheel, and she was.
She was on her wheel. We were thinking about her and her message of peace,
hope, and love.

And that`s the message that grace was all about that we rode for, to
deliver that to America, so that America knows what grace is all about as
well as all of the other children we lost that day.

O`DONNELL: Monte Frank, thanks for joining us tonight and thanks for
bringing the Connecticut effect to Washington again today.

FRANK: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thanks.

Largely due to a ground swell of protests, sparked by an Oscar-
nominated documentary about sexual assaults in the military, the Senate and
new secretary of defense will take up the first investigation into sexual
assault in the military in 10 years. That`s coming up.

And why CPAC is giving its best speaking times to the court jesters of
the Republican Party, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, and giving much less
time to real policymakers like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan, and absolutely no
time to the most popular Republican in the country, Chris Christie.


O`DONNELL: Republicans hate the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
I mean, protecting consumers, what kind of socialist would want to do that?
So, of course, Republicans hate the bureau the Obama administration created
to protect consumers from abuse by financial institutions.

Republicans refused to confirm the president`s first fully qualified
choice to lead the bureau, Elizabeth Warren, and now 43 Republican senators
are pledging to block confirmation of Richard Cordray, unless Democrats
agree to dramatically cut the agency`s authority.

Today, Cordray had his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate
Banking Committee, including its new member, the now senior senator from
Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren.


getting him confirmed is bad for consumers, it`s bad for small banks, it`s
bad for credit unions, it`s bad for anyone trying to offer an honest
product in an honest market. The American people deserve a Congress that
worries less about helping big banks and more about helping regular people
who`ve been cheated on mortgages, on credit cards, on student loans, on
credit reports.

I hope you get confirmed. You have earned it, Director Cordray.




SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I think that the military needs
to understand that this is -- could be a tipping point I think for the
American people to rise up, particularly the women, and say I don`t think
one general should be able to overturn a jury.


O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the war on women inside our
military. Last week, during an Armed Services Committee hearing, Senator
Claire McCaskill explained the details of the case she believes could be a
tipping point in the way the military handles sexual assault cases.


MCCASKILL: A colonel, James Wilkerson, was convicted by a jury, a
military jury, of sexual assault that occurred at Aviano. He was sentenced
to dismissal, forfeiture of pay and one year in jail. And with a stroke of
a pin last week, a general dismissed those charges against him, a general
with no legal training, a general that had not sat in the courtroom.

And this general did it against the advice of his legal counsel. Now,
my heart is beating fast right now, I am so upset about this.


O`DONNELL: Senator McCaskill wasn`t the only one upset about that
decision. On the same day, Senators Barbara Boxer and Jeanne Shaheen wrote
a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel asking him to immediately
review recent decision by an Air Force lieutenant general to dismiss all
charges against a field grade officer who had been convicted of sexual
assault. The senators also asked Hagel whether he has the authority to
overturn the dismissal of the case.

Three days later, Secretary Hagel responded that "under the Uniform
Code of Military Justice, the convening authority`s action is a final
decision. He cannot overturn that decision." But Hagel did promise to
review the case and have an independent panel review the process that
allows commanders to overrule and dismiss decisions by military courts.

Tomorrow, the Wilkerson case will be one of the cases considered
during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the first Senate hearing
on sexual assault in the military in close to 10 years. Joining me for
exclusive interview, two of the women testifying at tomorrow`s hearing
tomorrow, Rebekah Havrilla and Anu Bhagwati, both of the Service Women`s
Action Network.

Rebecca, can you give us a preview of what you will tell the committee

focusing on my personal story and how the system failed me in my
experiences. So my testimony will be coming from a personal perspective
and personal experiences and not as much from my professional experiences.

O`DONNELL: I want to show a sample of exactly that kind of story from
the Oscar nominated documentary "Invisible War," of women talking about
what it is like to report these rapes.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you report something, you better be
prepared for the repercussions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If a man gets accused of rape, it is a setup.
The woman is lying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I could choose to report it, but if I wasn`t --
you know, if they found that what I was saying wasn`t to be truthful, then
I would be reduced in rank.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could lose your rate. You could lose rank.
You could lose your school, if you file a false report. So do you want to
file a report?


O`DONNELL: Anu, one of the things that strikes me about this
Wilkerson case is here is a general last week overruling one of these
findings. This is after this film has come out. This film was seen by
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. It was seen by Chuck Hagel. This film
has had a big impact in the military. But apparently that general seems to
think it is the old time business as usual?

what we see is there`s actually systemic injustice within the criminal
justice system today. I saw that myself when I was a company commander in
the Marine Corps dealing with some of these reports. When I reported it,
when I tried to stick up for my Marines who were being sexually assaulted
or sexually harassed, my senior commanders swept these cases under the rug.

And I saw that time and time again. So the stories that you just
heard in the film were quite typical. But what we want to see and what
I`ll be testifying about tomorrow is really two major sweeping reforms that
we feel will fix this problem. The first is that commanders really
shouldn`t have the authority to have convening authority, which is
essentially what the three star general who overturned that sexual assault
conviction had.

Really lawyers, prosecutors are supposed to be the ones endowed with
that authority. Certainly in a civilian world, it is district attorneys
who are actually trained lawyers. They have been to law school. They have
expertise in the law, are the ones who make those kinds of decisions, like
which sex crimes will go to trial and so on.

But in the military, that doesn`t exist. In the, U.S. military, I
should say, because there are actually common law allied countries in which
commanders don`t have that kind of discretion.

O`DONNELL: Rebekah, when people join the military, especially now,
they know that there is risk. They know that there is danger. We are a
country that`s been in live combat for over a decade now. But when you
joined, did you have any sense that you were in this kind of danger within
and among your own troops?

HAVRILLA: No, I don`t think anybody thinks that when they join the
military. The military trains you from the beginning to focus on the unit,
to take care of each other, to band together. And having something like
that happen to you when you`re in the military produces a whole another
sense of betrayal and trauma, and really just makes a deep impact on your
psyche as a person and your mental status.

And I don`t think anybody is ever thinking about that when they walk
into a job like the military. And that`s what I saw it. I saw it as a
job, something I enjoyed doing. I never thought that I would end up where
I did.

O`DONNELL: Anu, do you suspect that the fact that we now have women
on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate is making a difference in the
way this issue is being heard?

BHAGWATI: I do think that matters. I mean, the women that have
spearheaded reform on this Senate Armed Services Committee are certainly
powerhouses when it comes to defending service members generally. And I
would like to say, you know, with this particular issue, it is not a
women`s issue. It`s not a women`s rights issue.

And I don`t just mean that in a politically correct sort of way. Of
the 19,300 service members who DOD estimated were assaulted in the year
2010, over 10,000 of them were men. So we really need to put those facts
out there and understand that rape and assault in the U.S. military, it is
not a gender issue. It is a military issue. It is an issue of complete
failure within the judicial system inside the military to properly handle
these cases.

And the final recommendation we are making is that service members, as
volunteers defending our nation, should have the same Constitutional rights
as the Americans whom they protect. Today they do not. They simply cannot
bring civil claims for sexual harassment, sexual assault, workplace
discrimination like a civilian victim in a civilian workplace could do.

O`DONNELL: Rebekah Havrilla and Anu Bhagwati, we will be watching
your testimony tomorrow. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BHAGWATI: Thank you.

HAVRILLA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Tomorrow night, Senator Claire McCaskill will join me
after the hearings for a LAST WORD exclusive.

Coming up in the Rewrite, the 100 year wait for a presidential pardon
in the case of the legendary Jack Johnson.



Johnson. Because first thing, when Jack Johnson was fighting, he could
have been killed in any of his major fights. There were people out in the
audience who probably were willing to murder him. He knew it, they knew
it, and everybody in the world knew it.


O`DONNELL: That was columnist Stanley Crouch talking about Jack
Johnson in Ken Burn`s brilliant Emmy winning documentary "Unforgivable
Blackness, the Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson." President Obama has been
asked to Rewrite the fall of Jack Johnson.

John Arthur Johnson was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1878, the first
son of Henry and Tina Johnson, both former slaves. Henry Johnson was a
school janitor and Tina Johnson was a laundress. They made sure all six of
their children learned how to read and write. Jack Johnson, who went on to
become the first black boxing heavyweight champion of the world, was a
better writer and public speaker than his five years of formal education
would have led you to expect.

He called what he did for a living, quote, "the stern business of
pugilism." Boxing was segregated when Jack Johnson started. There was no
hope that he would ever fight for the real world heavyweight championship.
He won the World Colored Heavyweight Championship in 1903. Five years
later, on the day after Christmas, in 1908, Jack Johnson finally won the
World Heavyweight Championship, beating Canadian Tommy Burns in Sydney,

To get that fight, Jack Johnson stalked Tommy Burns around the world
for two years, taunting him in the press. You have heard the phrase "Great
White Hope," that`s when the phrase was invented. The racist world that
Jack Johnson lived in cried out for a great white hope to take the title
back from him. But no one could beat Jack Johnson in the ring. And so
they cornered him in the courtroom.

He was convicted in 1913 under the Mann Act, which prohibited taking
women across state lines for immoral purposes. When the woman in question
was asked at the trial if she was in love with Jack Johnson, she said "I
don`t know what love is." Jack Johnson testified that he and the woman
were friends and that no immoral purposes were involved in their trip to
Atlantic City that the prosecution declared criminal.

Jack Johnson was quickly convicted by an all white jury.


JAMES EARL JONES, ACTOR: I think the man was about movement. Not
just movement in the ring, which he was a master at, but moving in life.
Don`t pin me down. Don`t lock me up. Don`t embrace me to death. Don`t
use me as you. I don`t see his life as a tragedy either. The scene was a
tragedy. America was a tragedy that it couldn`t cope with him.


O`DONNELL: A scrappy former boxer from Nevada, where Jack Johnson
once defended his title, rose last week in, of all places, the United
States Senate to try to rewrite the wrong the government did to Jack
Johnson. Senator Harry Reid, who hustled his way around Nevada boxing
rings before going to law school and getting into politics, joined with
Senator John McCain, Massachusetts` new Senator Mo Cowan, and New York
Republican Congressman Peter King to introduce a resolution to pardon Jack

"Jack Johnson was a legendary competitor who defined an era of
American boxing and raised the war for all American athletics," said
Senator Reid. "Johnson`s memory was unjustly tarnished by a racially
motivated criminal conviction. And it is now time to recast his legacy."

Senator John McCain said "we can never completely right the wrong
perpetrated against Jack Johnson during his lifetime. But this pardon is a
small, meaningful step toward acknowledging his mistreatment before the law
and celebrating his legacy of athletic greatness and historical

Senator Cowan said "Jack Johnson was one of the great African-American
athletes. His skill and perseverance to get back up every time he was
knocked down made him a champion in the eyes of the sports world and for
those who, like him, pursued their dreams despite racial intolerance."

Congressman Peter King said "Jack Johnson is a trail blazer and a
legend whose boxing career was cut short due to unjust laws and racial
persecution. I urge Congress and the president to do the right thing and
take the final step and grant his pardon."

There isn`t actually much doubt about how Congress will handle this
resolution, recommending a pardon. Both Houses have passed it unanimously
before twice, first under President Bush and under President Obama, and
neither president -- neither one of them was moved to take action. But of
course, the presidential power to pardon is absolute. No action by
Congress is actually necessary.

President Obama has never said why he didn`t pardon Jack Johnson when
Congress unanimously asked him to do so. The senators and congressmen
pushing this pardon are apparently hoping that a reelected President Obama
sees this differently than he did in his first term. And so tonight, 100
years after Jack Johnson`s conviction in court, the final justice for the
first African-American heavyweight champion is up to the first African-
American president.


CROUCH: I would say in his way, on a far lower scale, Johnson is
there with people like Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Duke Ellington, Louis
Armstrong, these homemade guys, guys whom you couldn`t figure out, that
there`s no recipe for. He`s one of them. And he`s the kind of a person
who could only have taken -- who could have only come about in the United
States, because America, for whatever its problems, still has a certain
kind of elasticity, and a certain latitude that allows a person to dream a
big enough dream that can be achieved if the person is as big as the dream.



O`DONNELL: Since election night 2012, many Republicans, from Sean
Hannity to Bill Kristol to Bobby Jindal, have been seriously trying to
figure out what the Republican party has to do to attract more voters. The
Conservative Political Action Conference, which will convene its annual
meeting in Washington this week, has apparently decided to leave all that
big stuff to Sean Hannity, because they just want to have fun.

According to a draft of the speaking schedule obtained by "National
Review," the sillier you are, the more speaking time you get. The
unemployed former half term governor of Alaska is scheduled to speak for 16
minutes. Fake billionaire, fake reality show host and fake human being
Donald Trump will get 14 minutes, which is one minute longer than the time
granted to Bobby Jindal, Rand Paul, Rick Perry and Scott Walker. And they
each have two more minutes than are scheduled for Marco Rubio and Paul

Rick Santorum, still clinging to the wreckage of his political career,
is now worth seven minutes at CPAC.

Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart of MSNBC and the "Washington Post."
Jonathan, come on, CPAC isn`t serious. They just want to have -- it`s like
a comedy festival they want to have there.

serious. In Sarah Palin`s description, you left off best selling author
and reality television star and soon to be author of a Christmas book. But
anyway, they can`t possibly be serious when this -- Did you put that Ted
Cruz is getting the most?

O`DONNELL: Yes, Ted Cruz is getting something like 33 minutes for
their so called keynote address.

CAPEHART: Right, he is being given a huge platform. One week, Marco
Rubio was the savior of the party. I guess this week Ted Cruz is going to
be the new savior of the Republican party. And then talking about this
today, on a day when we are talking about the Ryan budget plan, something
that is not serious at all, you have to wonder whether the Republican
party, particularly the conservative wing of the Republican party, is
serious at all about being a major national party anymore.

O`DONNELL: Ted Cruz, by the way, will, maybe or maybe not, do some
version of his Joe McCarthy lie, where he said this about Harvard law
school when he was there -- he said, there were fewer declared Republicans
in faculty when we were there than communists. There were 12 who would say
they were Marxists, who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United
States government.

Now that, of course, is a complete lie. There has never been a
Harvard Law School faculty member who supported overthrowing the United
States government by anyone. But that`s the kind of lie a sleazy liar like
Ted Cruz can tell in Texas, where he thinks those people cannot spell

CAPEHART: And it is the kind of lie he can tell at a CPAC conference.
The CPAC Conference is a red meat conference. It is the base of the
Republican party base. They want to hear lots of nasty, hard edge things
said about Democrats, said about -- particularly said about President
Obama. But those types of things, the stuff that comes out of there does
not make for national Republican candidates who can actually win a national

Sure, it might get them the Republican party nomination. It might win
them Iowa, New Hampshire, any of the Republican primaries. But when it
comes to winning the big house, when it comes to winning the White House,
impossible. Impossible.

O`DONNELL: And look, I don`t think there`s anything wrong with having
fun at these kinds of things.


O`DONNELL: And if you really sat down with the CPAC team and said,
OK, how do we construct the most serious version of this event that we can
have in which we are really trying to figure out how to go forward as a
party, who would you put up there, Jonathan? Who would you say are the top
three you need to hear from?

CAPEHART: That`s easy. Chris Christie.

O`DONNELL: Well, he`s banned. They`re not going to hear a word from

CAPEHART: No, no, no, but you said if you wanted to have it be a
serious version of CPAC. Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, even
Paul Ryan with his unserious budget. But at least he`s in Congress with
responsibility and putting himself on the line, even if it is bad ideas.
But he`s putting himself on the line with ideas that he thinks can help the
Republican party being a governing party. That`s how you do a serious

O`DONNELL: Well, we will be covering the CPAC comedy festival next
week. Jonathan Capehart gets tonight`s LAST WORD. Thanks, Jonathan.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.


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