LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
June 5, 2013
Guests: Amanda Terkel, Howard Dean, Ari Melber, Louise Roberts
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The president has given U.N. Ambassador
Susan Rice a promotion that the Republicans can`t stop.
And if you try to stop Michelle Obama from speaking, do not expect it
to go so well.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of all the jobs in
government, leading my national security team is certainly one of the most
demanding, if not the most demanding.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC ANCHOR: The president is making some changes to the
official inner circle or foreign policy.
OBAMA: Today I am wistful to announce Tom will step aside beginning
TODD: Tom Donilon made no bones about the fact that he would be
leaving at some point. It`s a stressful job.
OBAMA: I am extraordinarily proud to announce my new national
security adviser, Susan Rice.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Welcome back, Susan Rice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The pick has already drawn criticism from some
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC ANCHOR: Unfortunately for them, the powerful
post of national security adviser doesn`t require Senate confirmation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An awesome lady is our U.N. ambassador, did an
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fast decision making, incredible experience.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: She is extremely smart,
she`s extremely experienced, and she`s extremely tough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She`s absolutely an excellent choice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Uh-huh, what did I tell you.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: She has taken plenty of heat from
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a defiant gesture by the president.
BASHIR: A defiant rebuttal to Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Michelle Obama responded to a heckler during a
private fundraiser in D.C. last night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She tried to put a button on that.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: One of the things that I don`t do well is
TODD: She said, you know what, I`m walking off stage. It`s either
you or me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She just decided, I`ll let the audience decide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Boom. I`ll stop this car right now and turn
O`DONNELL: Today in the Rose Garden, President Obama promoted U.N.
Ambassador Susan Rice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Of all the jobs in government, leading my national security
team is certainly one of the most demanding, if not the most demanding.
I am proud that the work will be carried on by another exemplary
public servant, Ambassador Susan Rice.
I am absolutely thrilled she will be back at my side, leading my
national security team in my second term. Susan is the consummate public
servant, a patriot who puts her country first. She`s fearless. She`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And she does not have to be confirmed by the Senate to
become the president`s national security adviser. That`s because the job
was not created by the Senate. The job of national security adviser was
created by President Eisenhower. He decided he would like to have someone
working close to him, up to speed on everything the secretary of state and
secretary of defense are working on, and instantly available to the
president to advise him on national security matters.
Jobs like secretary of state, secretary of defense, secretary of
treasury, and all of the cabinet posts were actually created by legislation
passed by Congress, and in that legislation Congress gave the senate the
power to confirm the president`s choices f those jobs.
But like White House chief of staff, White House press secretary, the
national security adviser is one of many very important jobs that the
president does not have to submit to the Senate for confirmation, and for
the first time in history, FOX News suddenly has a big problem with that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
BOB BECKEL, FOX NEWS: Keep in mind, national security didn`t have to
testify. That is a one person who does not have to testify.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Isn`t that shady?
BECKEL: Shady how?
O`REILLY: Because she may be getting the appointment because she
won`t have to testify.
BECKEL: Well, maybe that`s it exactly.
O`REILLY: Isn`t that shady? Aren`t we an open society, aren`t we
supposed to be transparent here? Are we supposed to be shady?
Let`s get back to the shady business. You hit on a couple of things.
Ambassador Rice gets appointed national security adviser, doesn`t have to
testify, all right? That seems to me a shady reason to do it.
But let`s get back to the shady factor. This is shady.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
O`DONNELL: I don`t know what he was talking about.
Today, Ambassador Rice who was confirmed by unanimous consent in the
Senate for her current position, unanimously confirmed for her current
position, thanked the president for his support.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN RICE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: Mr. President, thank you so
much. I am deeply honored and humbled to serve as your national security
adviser. I`m proud to have worked so closely with you more than six years,
and I`m deeply grateful for your enduring confidence in me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So tonight, Krystal Ball, Bill O`Reilly has a big problem
with Dwight Eisenhower for creating this very shady position, where you
don`t have to beg the Senate for your job.
KRYSTAL BALL, THE CYCLE: How dare the president be able to hire
people to advise him? Shady. Incredibly shady. And only under the Obama
administration would we have this lack of transparency.
You know, one thing that`s interesting here is this is being read as a
defiant, aggressive move, which it is. I`m sure the president has
awareness that Republicans aren`t too into Susan Rice, and they`re
obviously seething over the fact that there`s nothing they can do about him
appointing her national security adviser, but it`s also remarkable that
appointing, hiring someone to advise you who is imminently well-qualified,
who has been a trusted voice, who will be a fabulous addition to the team,
that that should be seen as somehow controversial and aggressive.
To me, it`s just logical and makes a lot of sense.
O`DONNELL: Yes, Richard, I hope there`s no defiance at all. I hope
the president isn`t doing this because the Republicans criticizing her
really bothered me and I want to defy them with this appointment. I hope
he`s choosing her because he thinks of all the people I can possibly have
now as my national security adviser, she`s the best person.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I think of the top 10
reasons the president chose Susan Rice as national security adviser, number
11 would be annoying Republicans.
O`DONNELL: And the reaction from Bill O`Reilly.
BALL: That`s a bonus.
WOLFFE: I recall looking at Dick Cheney and his openness and
transparency, they didn`t call him shady.
WOLFFE: You know, it`s totally different way with a black president,
When you look at his relationship with Susan Rice, when you look at
how they act together in the first campaign, you know, they were close
always, they do share a world view and she`s feisty. That does appeal to
But I have to tell you, her reaction, her way of dealing with the
onslaught from Republicans was very classy, very well-respected, and very
much appreciated by this president. She -- her natural desire would have
been to lash out, and she tamed it, controlled herself, dealt with respect
and in a totally open way. And for all of the criticism I am about to get
for saying that, I do mean it. She responded in the most open way possible
about a CIA operation in Benghazi, and that`s I think also a plus for her.
It is not about annoying Republicans, but the way she dealt with them
stepped her up in the president`s view.
O`DONNELL: And let`s look at how the president defended her when they
were going after her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: She made an appearance at the request of the White House in
which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been
provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to
go over somebody, they should go after me. And I`m happy to have that
discussion with them.
But for them to go after U.N. ambassador who had nothing to do with
Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence she
had received and to smudge her reputation is outrages.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Krystal, it is kind of fascinating that they didn`t go
after him. Here is the president of the United States, he lost an
ambassador in Benghazi.
If you want to be outraged about this, why wouldn`t they have gone
straight at the president? Why did they go after Susan Rice for things she
said on Sunday morning early in everyone`s understanding of what happened
BALL: It has always been very strange to me, not only the choice to
go after Susan Rice but to fixate on talking points, when there were much
more -- much more really legitimate questions about what happened in
Benghazi, that they could have drawn out, that they could have focused on,
that they could have tried to tie to President Obama, now they`re sort of
after the fact trying to tie them into former Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, now that she`s on the list for 2016.
But that line of attack has never made sense to me. And the other
aspect of her now being appointed national security adviser is it has been
very interesting to see Republican responses, because they`re putting out
there they`re very unhappy about this, but they really can`t say why. She
has been cleared of any sort of wrongdoing. There was no cover up. She
was not involved in drafting of the talking points, she was just really
being the team player, going out and sharing with American people the best
understanding of intelligence that we had at that point.
O`DONNELL: And, Richard, she will be in a job that has little direct
interaction with Congress anyway.
BALL: Right, and dealing with a lot of classified material as well.
Even if she were testifying, or sometimes national security adviser gives
public speeches, they`re extremely limited in what they can of any interest
or usefulness in the public realm anyway.
So look, this is a personal adviser to the president and you`re never
going to hear what she will say to the president, let`s be clear.
O`DONNELL: And the theory of the job is honest broker. There`s going
to be a set of a bunch of different flows of information, CIA,
intelligence, including military intelligence, all that stuff, Defense
Department, State Department, kind of flowing through the one desk in the
White House, it is the easy stop for the president on these subjects.
And so, the real question is just will she be the honest broker in
BALL: That`s exactly right. I think you were totally correct to
point out the reason he selected her was not to get back at the
Republicans. It`s because he has deep respect for her, as is obvious in
the clip, defending her and her qualifications and her role in post-
O`DONNELL: And the ambassador to the U.N. is considered a cabinet
O`DONNELL: They`re allowed into cabinet meetings and stuff. So, he`s
surely had enough interaction with her over the years to evaluate will she
honestly represent State, Defense, CIA, all the conflicting interests to me
when I need her to.
WOLFFE: Look, she was able to be the Obama person in Hillary
Clinton`s world, that was not an easy thing to pull off. Talk about
needing diplomatic skills.
O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton, technically her boss when Hillary was
secretary of state.
WOLFFE: And let`s just be clear: the Republicans who have gone after
Susan Rice, especially John McCain and Lindsey Graham, are
interventionists. One thing that drives them crazy is the president
doesn`t intervene. Who in that group were most vocal about intervening in
a place Libya, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and to some degree, she got a
lot of credit for it, but to some degree, Hillary Clinton, too.
That`s the kind of person that John McCain should be supporting now,
but of course, he hates her because he wants to look good with FOX News.
O`DONNELL: Who cares about the truth?
Richard Wolffe, Krystal Ball -- Krystal, you`re not going to be with
us for a while because you`re taking a little maternity leave.
BALL: That is the plan. Yes, I am due on Monday, I plan Friday to be
my last television day.
O`DONNELL: When you say due Monday, we`re sitting here on what is
this, a Wednesday? You are taking maternity leave to have a baby Monday?
O`DONNELL: Why not like two months ago to have a baby Monday?
BALL: if I was just sitting home, I would be going crazy, when is
this baby coming.
O`DONNELL: We`re so different.
BALL: You`re helping distract me being over being pregnant.
O`DONNELL: I should have taken your maternity leave the last two
O`DONNELL: Anyway, so Monday -- you`ll be back Tuesday.
BALL: I might take a few more days than that, if you`ll let me.
O`DONNELL: Take your time. You take your time, Krystal. We are
thrilled for you.
BALL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Monday is a big day. OK.
BALL: Thanks, Richard.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the first lady versus a protester. We will be
joined by a woman in the room when the protester tried to shut down
Michelle Obama. Nice try.
Also, Chris Christie and Rush Limbaugh have a very big problem.
Christie versus Limbaugh, that`s coming up.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
O`DONNELL: Oh, boy.
President Obama has never had to face a flying shoe. But he has been
rudely interrupted while speaking from time to time. And yesterday, it
happened to Michelle Obama. We`ll hear how she handled it from a woman
that was in that room.
And I jus -- I can`t get enough of this. Oh, great move. You`ve got
to admit, it was a great move.
O`DONNELL: First Lady Michelle Obama was speaking about the need to
stay politically engaged when she was interrupted by someone very
politically engaged at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser in
Washington yesterday. A woman asked why President Obama won`t sign an
executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against
LBGT employees and job applicants.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: We have an obligation to stand up for
those kids and I don`t care what you believe in, we don`t -- wait, wait.
OBAMA: One of the things I -- one of the things that I don`t do well
You understand -- one of the things --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, I don`t know, maybe she does do it well.
The first lady told the woman, "Listen to me or you can take the mike
but I`m leaving. You all decide. You have one choice."
The woman was then escorted out, continuing to shout, quote, "I am a
lesbian looking for federal equality before I die."
The first lady was at the home of a married lesbian couple, speaking
to a crowd that paid between $500 and $10,000 to attend. A spokesperson
for the LBGT rights group GetEQUAL confirms the protester was Ellen Sturtz,
an activist with the organization.
Sturtz later told Amanda Terkel of "The Huffington Post", "I was asked
by the first lady to be quiet and I can`t be quiet any longer. I was
surprised by how negative the crowd seemed to be. It was actually a little
unsettling and disturbing."
Joining me now is "The Huffington Post`s" Amanda Terkel who was
covering that event, and MSNBC`s Jonathan Capehart.
Amanda, take us into the room as this unfolded. How quickly did you
realize this woman wasn`t a polite questioner?
AMANDA TERKEL, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Well, we were in the backyard of
a private residence. It was a pretty small event. You expect these to be
pretty friendly affairs, and Michelle Obama was behind the lectern. And
all of a sudden, this woman started yelling for this executive order.
And what I think surprised lot of people, instead of addressing the
woman from where she was standing, Michelle Obama left the lectern, came
over to the crowd, and came very close to the woman, and gave the audience
a choice. You know, you can let her speak or you can let me speak, we are
not going to both do it.
And that`s when the crowd quickly turned on the protester and said,
you need to get out of here, you need to leave. She was taken out pretty
O`DONNELL: And she had paid $500 to be in there, right?
TERKEL: Yes, she had. And in the quote that you read that she gave
to me about how she was surprised how negative the crowd was, she told me
that she expected it to be sort of a friendlier, pro-LBGT audience, and
they might have been. They might not have just sort of liked protesting
the first lady. But she did pay to get in and there were other activists
from GetEQUAL and they also paid to get in.
O`DONNELL: In your discussion with her, did you get any sense that
she regretted what she did?
TERKEL: Not at all. She`s relatively new to LBGT activism, but she
is now planning to get involved in it more, she`s very concerned about this
issue. She donated thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party to help
get President Obama elected in 2008, believing he would sort of end this
workplace discrimination, and she`d really, really like to see him do it
So, I think she`s going to stay involved, I don`t think she regrets
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, what about the audience reaction?
JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: Well, this is an audience that
like the protester paid money to hear the first lady. And I think a lot of
people at that event thought what Ellen Sturtz did was rude, that you know,
interrupting the first lady who is speaking to the crowd, especially at
that moment in her speech where she was speaking very passionately about
children, I think they thought it was rude. I think they thought the venue
was wrong and thought that the target was inappropriate.
So I think that`s why, I mean, I don`t understand why Ellen Sturtz
thought that the crowd was going to be friendly or friendlier to what she
had done, but the crowd made it its allegiance pretty clear who they wanted
to hear from.
O`DONNELL: Amanda, was the first lady going to take questions when
she finished speaking, was there any indication of that?
TERKEL: I didn`t get that indication. After the speech was done, she
shook some hands, she took a few pictures. I was escorted out pretty
quickly. But it didn`t seem like the type of forum where she was going to
So I don`t know if Ellen Sturtz would have gotten much chance to speak
with her, maybe just exchange a couple words afterward.
O`DONNELL: And how quickly did the first lady recover, going --
getting back into her own remarks?
TERKEL: She recovered very quickly. I mean, the crowd again I think
was sort of on her side, so she went back to the lectern, resumed saying
this is about our kids, about the next generation. It`s not about your
issue, whatever it may be.
O`DONNELL: And did she incorporate what happened into the remainder
of her remarks the way we saw the president do that when he was interrupted
on a speech recently, he took what happened and built it into his speech?
TERKEL: No, she didn`t. I mean, I think there was a big difference
how the first lady and the president dealt with the protesters. The
president I think sort of stayed where he was, I don`t think he could have
gone down into the crowd and addressed the protester, addressed her
concern, said she had valid concerns and engaged with her a bit before she
was taken out.
Michelle Obama, you know, very different than her husband, probably
not as used to protesters and hecklers, and sort of took a very no nonsense
approach to say I am not going to tolerate this.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, we haven`t seen something similar on
the Republican side at the presidential level where someone more
conservative than the Republican president on some issue interrupts the
Republican president, interrupts the Republican first lady this way. This
seems to be something unique to the Democratic side.
CAPEHART: Well, yes, because you know, Republicans don`t do that.
Whatever arguments they have with each other, they`re done in places that
surely aren`t in public. If someone were to do something like that, rebuke
and retribution would be rather intense.
But the Democratic Party is a big tent party, filled with, you know,
rambling factions and folks who care passionately about issues. So while I
can, you know, knock Ellen Sturtz for doing what she did and where she did
it and to whom she did it, I understand why she is so concerned about
getting the president to sign this executive order.
O`DONNELL: And the Democratic Party is filled with people who have
succeeded moving things forward through protest, from civil rights protest,
through gay rights protest and many other kinds of protests. So, there`s a
much richer tradition of it on the Democratic side.
Jonathan Capehart and Amanda Terkel, thank you very much for joining
CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.
TERKEL: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you both.
Up next, Rush Limbaugh -- bound to happen, Rush Limbaugh versus Chris
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: When 2016 rolls around and Governor
Christie is seeking the presidency, I won`t be surprised if he seeks the
Democrat Party nomination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Rush Limbaugh versus Chris
Christie. Rush Limbaugh and some other Republicans were hoping that Chris
Christie would fill Frank Lautenberg`s seat with a Republican, and postpone
the Senate special election until 2014, but it was not absolutely clear he
had the legal right to do that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: What Chris Christie did deserves real scrutiny from the
standpoint of the Republicans. Talk about a slap in the face, we need
people in the Republican Party in positions are power voting against some
of this stuff. We just had a chance to have another one in the Senate,
sorry, it`d be unfair. I am going to throw it to special election to show
people how moderate and partisan and bipartisan, whatever I am.
Don`t tell me that Governor Christie is a conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Governor Howard Dean, you have been in that position. I
think it probably goes through every governor`s mind, you have that appoint
power I event of a senator`s death or loss of a seat somehow. What`s your
read on how Chris Christie handled this?
HOWARD DEAN FORMER CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Well, the
tradition in Vermont is actually appoint somebody from the party of the
person who has deceased or is out of office.
O`DONNELL: Only in Vermont.
DEAN: Only in Vermont. Very bipartisan in Vermont. So, you know, I
think this is a screw up on governor Christie`s part. This is about a
price tag of 10 million bucks to have the election on a day when large
numbers of Democratic voters aren`t going to be energized. I think this is
a screw up. As you know, I respect governor Christie, but you know, to put
this thing three weeks before the election for his own benefit I think was
O`DONNELL: I want to get a legal ruling on this from the last word`s
law professor, Ari Melber. We can`t afford a real law professor.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Discount night.
O`DONNELL: Well, we will go with law school graduate.
MELBER: OK, thank you.
O`DONNELL: What is your legal reading of what Christie`s options
MELBER: My reading under New Jersey law given the time line is that
he could have gone either way. That he had a strong argument for what he
did today or yesterday, I should say, and he could have also done the thing
where Rush Limbaugh would have enjoyed having a year and a half of an
appointed Republican vote. What we did learn from governor Dean is that
people in Vermont have nicer traditions than people in jersey.
O`DONNELL: And also the third option was he could also have folded
the Senate election in with the governor`s election.
MELBER: He absolutely could have done that, that goes without saying,
that would be the most efficient, and goes to the cost, the governor
mentioned cost. Chris Christie couldn`t find it in the budget to get 25
million for early voting, with all studies show helps more people vote. He
said they couldn`t afford that when jersey had to deliberate on that this
year. But he did find the money to put himself above not only those kind
of issues of democracy and constituency in jersey, but also interestingly
above the priorities of the Republican national party, which upset Rush.
O`DONNELL: And Governor Dean, he said something I`m actually never
heard an office holder say, no matter how tempted they might be in certain
situations, especially emergency situations, about this special election,
he actually said the words I don`t care how much it costs. Those are the
words you`re never supposed to be caught saying.
DEAN: Yes. I mean, look, $10 million is not chump change, certainly
isn`t chump change in Vermont. And it`s not really chump change in New
Jersey, given all the budgetary problems people have had. I just don`t --
I understand that there is a question of law, and I did have actually a
debate inside my administration over replacing me when I became governor.
I ascended to lieutenant governorship on death of the governor. So then,
the question was could you replace me, it was a complicated problem. These
are not easy questions. Most states have laws that aren`t totally clear
because we`re not prepared for this kind of stuff.
It was really clear that he could have appointed, I mean, he could
have set the election date for Election Day when he was on the ballot and
so were all the good many of the New Jersey legislators. And that`s
clearly what should have been done. Then you only have the expense of
adding one additional person on this big, long ballot. I just can`t -- I
mean, I know why he didn`t -- I think I know why he didn`t do that, but I
don`t think that`s a service to the taxpayers of New Jersey.
O`DONNELL: Well, it doesn`t sound like there`s any way he is going to
get Rush Limbaugh back. Let`s listen to more about what Rush said about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Really bipartisanship here,
Obama has money, governor Christie wants the money, governor Christie needs
the money so the people will be helped, so Christie praises Obama. It is a
master servant relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now Ari, I have watched Rush walk back his criticisms of
Republicans as they move closer to winning the presidential nomination,
John McCain is an example, there are many examples. How he walks back
master servant relationship with Chris Christie, I don`t think that`s going
MELBER: Yes. I don`t have standards for Rush Limbaugh. There are no
standards. It`s not like he didn`t meet them, there are none. I would
advise him to leave master and servant out of the conversation. Don`t need
I also disagree slightly with his analysis. I don`t think it is about
placating Barack Obama, I think it is what`s good for Chris Christie,
period. And in the new NBC " Wall Street Journal" poll out today, we see
that Chris Christie has the highest favorable to unfavorable ratio of any
national politician, 4-1, unheard of numbers in our polarized time. And
the question is why is that, because of things he is doing, is it because
of his leadership, or is it because of decisions like this, that no matter
what happens, Chris Christie puts Chris Christie first. And eventually I
think that will catch up with him. It is happening on the right, they lost
a vote they could have locked in. I don`t think that would have been the
best move for the state, but there`s no doubt that down in Washington,
national Republican party looked at him, wanted to lock in an extra vote
and didn`t get it because it is all about Chris Christie.
O`DONNELL: Governor Howard Dean, professor Ari Melber, thank you both
for joining me.
MELBER: Thank you very much.
DEAN: Thanks very much.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the history of sexual misconduct in the
And in the "rewrite," the Republican congressman pushing legislation
for his own personal financial benefit, and pushing for cuts in food
stamps, and citing the bible as his guide for why he wants to take food out
of the mouths of children.
O`DONNELL: How long has sexual misconduct been a problem in the
American military? A historian will join us on that later.
And next in the "rewrite," another episode of the politics of
religion. This time colliding with the worst kind of socialism.
O`DONNELL: Imagine what the Washington scandal police would do if
they discovered a congressman pushed for a bill written for his own
personal enrichment. Imagine. Imagine if this congressman was shown to
have already made millions of dollars off of exactly this kind of
legislation. Darrell Issa would have that congressman thrown in leg irons
and dragged before his committee whereof course the culprit would take the
fifth amendment as the ethics committee worked on his expulsion, and the
FBI and U.S. attorney start to work on an indictment.
But none of that would happen if it is a Republican congressman we`re
talking about or if it`s a Democrat. Even if the congressman was making
sure that he gets a direct cash payoff from government funds in the most
purely socialistic program this government has, agriculture subsidies.
Tennessee`s Republican socialism hating congressman, Steven Fincher
has received over $3.5 million directly from the government in socialistic
agriculture subsidies, which is of course the single stupidest form of
socialism this country embraces. When Steven Fincher went to Washington,
all he wanted to do was get a seat on the agriculture committee because
that`s where his money is. He thinks it is his money. He thinks he
No one who takes money from the agriculture department thinks they
don`t deserve it. They believe they earn their money the old fashioned
way, by lobbying for it, and simply taking it straight out of the United
States treasury. You`d never know it if you heard Steven Fincher speaking
in the agriculture committee markup of the farm bill from which he and his
family have been living off millions and millions of dollars for
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN FINCHER (R), TENNESSEE: Now we are all on this committee
making decisions about other people`s money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, yes, you are. But you, Stephen Fincher, are also
making decisions about your money, what you think of as your money, but
your money is actually my money, and all the people`s money who pay taxes
into the federal government and don`t get any kind of subsidy from the
federal government whatsoever.
Congressman Stephen Fincher gets away with this socialistic thing for
two reasons. One, Republicans and Democrats in Congress love socialism
much more than they understand or admit. No socialist program gets more
un-bridled bipartisan support than agriculture socialism, are the single
worst and stupid and most inefficient form of socialism in this country and
cruelest form of socialism in this country because agriculture is a global
market, and we subsidize our farmers at the direct competitive expense of
farmers in the third world, farmers in Africa. And then we say to Africa,
why are you having trouble with your agriculture?
The other reason, there is no law against conflict of interest in the
Congress. No judge would be allowed to preside over a trial in which he
had a financial interest in the outcome. There are conflict of interest
trip wires all over the legal profession, but if you`re in the agriculture
business and get elected to Congress, everyone understands why you want to
get on the agriculture committee and everyone is cool with that.
You want to get on the agriculture committee to pay yourself money in
addition to your congressional salary. Not long ago, the Republican leader
of the Senate was a major owner of hospitals and medical facilities in this
country and he never recuse himself from a vote on legislation directly
affecting his wealth and income. Try to think back to the last time you
heard about a senator or a member of the house reducing himself or herself
because of a conflict of interest. It does not happen.
The Republicans and Democrats in the commercial real estate business
vote on tax provisions on commercial real estate all the time. The
Republicans and Democrats in the Congress who are heavily invested in oil
stocks or alternative energy sources vote on bills that can personally
enrich them all the time, and no one in Congress thinks anything of it, and
no reporter in Washington uses the word scandal for that.
It should be a crime. If you`re in t agriculture business, you got
elected to Congress, one committee you should not be allowed to serve on is
the agriculture committee. If you own banks and you are elected to
Congress, you should not be allowed to serve on the banking committee. How
hard is that to figure out?
Congress hasn`t figured it out and the Washington press corp. hasn`t
figured it out. And there`s no editorial campaign anywhere to get conflict
of interest out of Congress.
So, a socialistic looter of the people`s money, a guy who is taking it
right out of the treasury, and sticking it in his pocket, can get away with
saying things this in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FINCHER: We represent the people and we represent the people`s money
and we have to be good stewards of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And he is allowed to say that without objection when
voting on a bill to enrich himself and his family in order to continue to
enrich himself, a bill he is voting for that will cut food stamps for the
neediest people among us. But he has a justification for that, all
criminals have a justification for their crimes. He finds his
justification in the bible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FINCHER: I looked at second Thessalonians, 3:10. For even when we
were with you, we gave you this rule, the one who is unwilling to work
shall not eat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He is quoting the bible to support cutting food stamps,
the one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. Forty-five percent of the
beneficiaries of food stamps are children. What work would the lying
Republican agriculture socialist have the children do for their food?
The line he is using from the bible is actually irrelevant to his
opponent. The admonishment about those not willing to work not eating was
directed at misguided people who stopped working in order to sit and wait
for the second coming of Jesus Christ. The biblical line was written to
emphasize sitting and doing nothing while waiting for the second coming of
Jesus Christ s not a good idea.
As I`ve pointed out many times before, there`s good socialism and bad
socialism just as there`s good capitalism and bad capitalism. The
challenge of the modern world is to decide when socialism works better than
capitalism and when capitalism works better than socialism and how to mix
The economically and literate among us, which is to say most of us,
and virtually all politicians in almost all the press corp. have no idea
what socialism actually is, which means they have no idea how much
socialism they support, like Social Security and Medicare, the crown jewel
of American good socialism, the good socialism.
And so, for example, whenever my name is mentioned to Bill O`Reilly,
he says that O`Donnell is a socialist, not realizing he is, too. O`Reilly
and I nearly differ in our degree of support for socialism. The worst
enemy of good socialism is bad socialism, like agriculture socialism, and
the worst socialists are the ones that push bad socialism for their own
personal enrichment, like Republican congressman Stephen Fincher, who is
willing to take food out of the mouths of children as long as he can still
use government money to rich himself. There should be a special place in
the congressional hall of shame for Stephen Fincher. There should be a
place in federal prison for Stephen Fincher, but Congress has made sure
that conflict of interests in Congress is perfectly legal. And no one in
Washington thinks that`s a scandal.
A retired member of the Navy SEAL team six has written a memoir
explaining a secret he carried for his 20 year-career. He is transgender.
In the book, "Warrior Princess," now retired Navy SEAL, Kristin Beck writes
most fellow SEALs are supportive. Beck retired from Navy SEAL team six in
2011, only months before the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
Up next, a historian looks at the history of sex in the American
military, that`s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: We cannot successfully address this
problem without a culture change throughout the military. Discipline is
the heart of the military culture and trust is its soul. The plague of
sexual assault erodes both the heart and the soul.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Yesterday, the Senate armed services committee hearing,
everyone agreed culture change throughout the military was necessary for
dealing with what seems like an epidemic of sexual assault in our military.
Congress and we in the media have been treating sexual assault in the
American military as a new phenomenon. In the new book "what soldiers do,
sex and the American GI in world war II France." Historian, Mary Louise
Sex was fundamental to how the U.S. military framed, fought and won
the war in Europe, far from being a marginal release from pressures of
combat, sexual behavior stood at the center of the story in the form of
myth, symbol, and model of power.
Joining me now, professor of French history at University of
Wisconsin, Madison, Mary Louise Roberts.
Professor Roberts, I was absolutely fascinated when I first saw and
noticed of your book on "the New York Times," and reading it is filled with
revelations including that last part that I just read. But you talk in the
book about how sex was actually used as part of incentivizing for troops,
especially in the invasion of France.
MARY LOUISE ROBERTS, AUTHOR, WHAT SOLDIERS DO: Yes. Thank you,
Lawrence, first of all, for allowing me to be on the show. It is a
pleasure to be here.
Yes, I mean, for soldiers in the pacific, it was very easy to get them
to fight because our country had been invaded by the Japanese. But in the
case of Europe it was much more difficult because the American GIs didn`t
know the French, didn`t know France. So. what I found when I looked in the
military journals, stars and stripes, was that a great deal of the way they
motivated soldiers was the old stereotype of France as a kind of sexy
country where women were just waiting to kiss them and welcome them and be
rescued and reward them for their efforts.
O`DONNELL: And you come from a military family. Your father was
military. This was not something you were eager to be discovering, but you
came across it in your French history research, and the book portrays after
the American invasion of France some very powerful sexual aggression on the
part of American troops to the point the French started to wonder how long
they could bear this.
ROBERTS: Yes, that`s absolutely true. There was a tsunami of male
lust once the American GIs arrived with the expectations, of course, that
the French women would be happy to greet them, so there was a great deal of
prostitution, some of it completely illegal, some of it more legal, and
then unfortunately in the summer of 1944, there was one of two very serious
waves of rape.
O`DONNELL: And the book talks a little bit about the women`s army
corp. waks, as we used to call then, and that is particularly relevant to
today`s experience of women in the military, many fewer women in the
military then. But, what was their experience in relation to the sexual
aggression of the troops?
ROBERTS: Well, the waks were the only part of the army not given
condoms when they went out on leave. And I think that the waks had their
own problems in terms of sexuality. They were often accused of being
lesbians, of being sexually promiscuous, sexually immoral, that was one of
the ways in which they were undermined, actually, as part of the serve as
part of the military. So, I think they in contrast to the men tried to
keep it very clean.
O`DONNELL: And do you see something connective to the warrior culture
that a combat military actively engaged in combat that we have then and now
to some extent, that there`s something in that culture that contains the
seeds for this?
ROBERTS: Well, I can tell you what about the scandal today, which I
follow very closely. What looks familiar to me as historian of the 1940s,
the U.S. military during the second world war had a complete double faced,
Janus face attitude towards sex. Officially, prostitution was prohibited,
according to the May act of 1941. But the American, our armed services or
the military in France anyways, completely, privately, condoned that kind
of sexual behavior. So, go on, sorry.
O`DONNELL: So, they always had that the public face of the issue
being different from the way they are going on the way.
ROBERTS: Yes, it is exactly the same.
O`DONNELL: Professor Mary Louise Roberts, the book is "What Soldiers
Do." Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
ROBERTS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL